Rafael Nadal has won a record 34th ATP Masters 1000 title with a victory over Novak Djokovic in the Italian Open final.
The Spaniard, who had shared the record of 33 Masters titles with the Serbian world number one, warmed up for the defence of his French Open crown by securing his ninth Rome title.
After losing in the semifinals of three straight clay-court tournaments, Nadal dominated for stretches against his longtime rival Djokovic in a 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 win Sunday for a record-extending ninth Italian Open title.
It marked the first time in an Open Era-record 54 meetings, and in their 142nd set against each other, that Nadal won a set against Djokovic without conceding a game – otherwise known as a bagel.
The timing for Nadal’s return to form could not have been more opportune, as he will seek a record-extending 12th title at the French Open starting next weekend.
“Winning a title is important but for me, the most important thing is [to] feel myself competitive, feel myself healthy,” Nadal said.
“Then with the feeling that I am improving. I know if I’m able to reach my level you can win, you can lose, but normally I’m going to have my chances, especially on this surface.”
Top-ranked Djokovic, meanwhile, appeared exhausted after spending more than five and a half hours on court against Juan Martin del Potro and Diego Schwartzman the previous two days.
Djokovic was also coming off the Madrid Open title last week.
“I don’t want to talk about fatigue or things like that,” Djokovic said. “Rafa was simply too strong today.”
In the women’s final earlier, Karolina Pliskova captured the biggest clay-court trophy of her career by beating Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-4.