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Rafa triumphs in rain-hit Rome final


 

Originally published on: 02/05/10 23:50

Rafael Nadal clinched a record-equalling 17th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title on Sunday after beating David Ferrer 7-5 6-2 in a rain-delayed final in Rome.

Victory at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia means the 23-year-old Spaniard has now matched Andre Agassi’s Masters 1000 title haul, achieving the feat a whopping 11 years quicker than the Las Vegan, with Agassi grasping his 17th Masters trophy in Cincinnati in 2004 aged 34.

Nadal now holds one more masters 1000 title than 28-year-old rival Roger Federer – who crashed out in the second round in Rome to in-form Latvian Ernests Gulbis – but the Spaniard still finds himself well short of the Swiss in terms of career titles, with 37 in the cabinet compared to the world No.1s 62.

In Rome, Nadal, who had crushed Fernando Verdasco for his sixth Monte-Carlo crown two weeks earlier, proved unflustered by countryman Ferrer’s aggressive attempt to deny him a fifth title in the Italian capital.

In the tournament’s first ever all-Spanish final, the Valencia native’s high-risk approach to the first set looked set to pay dividends when he pressurised Nadal on serve and held a 5-4, 30-0 advantage.

By then, a rain delay had already seen the players forced off court once, but Nadal managed to quickly turn things around before the players were forced off court again, holding serve before converting a sixth break point and serving out the set.

Nadal broke again in the third game of the second set, and after waiting out a second rain delay, the king of clay returned eager to finish the job. Aided by two double faults from Ferrer in the seventh game, Nadal ultimately sealed victory on serve after 104 minutes of play.

Though the wet conditions played into the hands of the Mallorcan, who will contentedly rally all day on the red stuff, his defeated opponent – and the tour’s most victorious player on clay this year – was in positive mood despite defeat.

“After the rain, the court was slower and of course Rafa is in form, especially in difficult moments and it’s difficult to beat him,” said Ferrer. “But I was pleased with my game.”

“This is the first time with a Masters 1000 final in Rome and I am happy with that,” he added. “I am happy with my season this year; it is important for me and for my confidence for my next tournaments.”

Nadal, whose barren 11-month run without a title ended two weeks ago in Monte-Carlo, is now unbeaten in 10 matches on clay this season.

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