He’s proven why he’s called the king of clay. Being 3-1 down in the third set against Alexander Zverev in the finals of the Italian Open, Rafael Nadal clinched the title winning the match 6-1,1-6,6-3. This is his 8th title in Rome and third for the clay court season so far, with Rolland Garros the next target.
He held on to the first set comfortably losing just a single game. The reverse happened in the second set when Nadal’s game started slipping. Zverev, winning the Madrid Masters last week, ensured he kept Nadal on his toes and managed to take the second set 6-1. He went on to break the first game of the third set to ensure Nadal was on the backfoot from the very beginning.
At 3-1 down, it started raining, which gave Rafael Nadal the break he wanted. The game resumed and he went on to break Zverev twice to take the match and the championship.
Last year, Italian Open was the only title Rafael Nadal couldn’t win in the clay court season, having lost to Dominic Thiem. With this victory, he not only win the championship, but comes back as the world number 1 ahead of Roger Federer.
Speaking of the French Open, the qualifiers are still underway but the Gland Slam is just a week away. Once again, Nadal will be the favourite for the title, but never say never in tennis. Dominic Thiem will be a major threat for the Spaniard, being the only person to beat him in clay both in 2017 and 2018. Zverev could be another potential threat considering his Madrid Masters win and the brilliant run at the Italian Open. Another potential threat could be Novak Djokovic, who showcased glimpse of regained strength and confidence, especially in the semifinal match against Rafael Nadal.
Coming back to the Italian Open in Rome, here is how social media reacted to the final.
— KingOfClay™ (@Rafaholics) May 20, 2018
So that’s 11 Monte Carlos, 11 Barcelona’s and 8 Italian Opens for #Nadal
— Derek Wiseman (@delmar08) May 20, 2018
— Leslie DeGonia (@LeslieDeGonia) May 20, 2018
— Cornish Bird (@BirdCornish) May 20, 2018
Monte Carlo – Nadal
Madrid – Nadal
Rome – Zverev
Monte Carlo – Nadal
Madrid – Zverev
Rome – Nadal
— Rashmi 🙂 sascha #8 🇩🇪❤️ (@RashmiK01) May 20, 2018
— Ashlesh (@Ashlesh8) May 20, 2018
— Lenka Rafanynka (@LenkaKlementov) May 20, 2018
— Rajeshwaran (@Dumangole) May 20, 2018
Well #Zverev really proved tonight what he's capable of, leaving us only exptecting even better things for him in the future. Great match from Monday's #1, #Nadal, displaying a true champion's spirit 👏🏽 #ibi18
— Hermine B' (@MimineHB) May 20, 2018
#Nadal you may win French open.but that old warrior & magician FedEx will come back & win both Wimbledon & us open.
— kailash ku. padhi (@kailashpadhi23) May 20, 2018