Djokovic Nadal Rome

Previous Italian Open finals between Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will meet for a staggering 57th time in the final of the 2021 Italian Open.

The great duo have faced off on nine previous occasions in Rome – more than at any other tournament. Between them, they have collected 14 of the last 16 Italian Open titles with Nadal winning nine and Djokovic claiming five.

Here, Tennishead looks back at the five previous Rome finals contested during the course of the historic rivalry:

1) 2009: Nadal (1) d. Djokovic (3) 7-6 (7-2), 6-2

Nadal reached the final of the Masters 1000 event in 2009 without dropping a set, and having lost just 18 games in four matches. Djokovic dropped just one set en route – in beating second seed Roger Federer in the semi-finals – to set up a 17th match with his great rival.

The Spaniard served for the opening set twice, but was forced to a tiebreak by the 2008 champion. Nadal won the tiebreak comfortably, and broke twice in the second set to seal his fourth Rome title.

2) 2011: Djokovic (2) d. Nadal (1) 6-4, 6-4

Djokovic went into a 27th meeting with Nadal on a 38-match winning streak and having won the pair’s previous three meetings – all in Masters 1000 finals that year. Both men dropped a set on their way to the final – the Serbian’s coming in an epic semi-final against Andy Murray.

A week after Djokovic earned his first ever win over Nadal on clay in the Madrid Open title match, he repeated the feat. The then world No. 2 broke four times – including in the final games of each set – to secure his second Italian Open trophy.

3) 2012: Nadal (2) d. Djokovic (1) 7-5, 6-3

The Spaniard gained revenge a year later with a straight sets victory of his own. Nadal had stopped a seven-match losing run against Djokovic with a one-sided win in the Monte Carlo Masters final a month earlier.

The second seed secured the crucial break for 6-5 in the first set by winning a brilliant net exchange, before closing the set out. The Spaniard then broke in the opening game of the second and – after saving five break points – broke again to win a sixth Rome title when Djokovic double faulted.

4) 2014: Djokovic (2) d. Nadal (1) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3

The pair next met in the Eternal City two years later in a 41st career clash – after both had tough paths to the final. Djokovic needed three sets to see off Philipp Kohlschreiber, David Ferrer and Milos Raonic, while Nadal was pushed the distance by Gilles Simon, Mikhail Youzhny and Andy Murray.

The Spaniard blitzed his way to a double break opening set lead, and held on to take it 6-4. Despite losing serve in each set, Djokovic broke twice in the second set and three times in the decider to claim his third Italian Open victory. It was the first match in a run of 11 meetings between the two won by the player who lost the first set.

5) 2019: Nadal (2) d. Djokovic (1) 6-0, 4-6, 6-1

Five years on, the remarkable rivalry was renewed for a 54th installment and a fifth time in a Rome title match. Nadal lost just 13 games en route to the encounter, while Djokovic came through tough three-setters against Argentine duo Juan Martin Del Potro and Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.

The Spaniard bageled Djokovic in a dominant first set, before the Serbian leveled the match by breaking Nadal as he served to stay in the second set. The second seed regained control and sealed a ninth Italian Open crown after a one-sided final set.

Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.