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Nadal claims eighth Rome title

  • Published at 12:24 am May 21st, 2018

Top seed Rafael Nadal raced away with the last five games to secure a 32nd Masters title and ensure a return to the world No 1 spot

Rafael Nadal won the Rome Masters for the eighth time Sunday when he defeated defending champion Alexander Zverev 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 after a stunning comeback.

German second seed Zverev was 3-1 up in the decider before two rain stoppages halted his momentum.

Top seed Nadal raced away with the last five games to secure a 32nd Masters title and ensure a return to the world No 1 spot.

The 31-year-old also showed why he will once again be the runaway favourite when Roland Garros begins in a week where he'll be bidding for an 11th French Open title.

Zverev, 21, came to the court riding a 13-match win streak which included last weekend's trophy in Madrid.  

However, by the end of Sunday's rain-hit final, his record against the Spaniard stood at five defeats in five meetings.

Nadal was 3-1 down at the first rain break but cut the gap on the resumption.

After a further half an hour off court during the second interruption, Nadal came back out firing, winning four straight games to wrap up the win on his second match point.

Nadal remains the best clay-courter of the Open Era with an astonishing 408-36 record.

He will next seek an 11th French Open crown to match the 11 he owns from Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

With the sun shining, Nadal made light work of what looked like a disastrous start to the match as he dropped serve in the opening game.

But the king of clay quickly mounted a fightback, breaking world No 3 Zverev to love and going on to deny the German a winning service game in the entire set.

Nadal closed out the opener in 32 minutes on an overhead smash to leave his challenger scratching for answers after losing six straight games.

Zverev finally held serve to start the second set and answered Nadal by breaking the top seed twice to reach 5-0 as the first dark clouds of the week gathered over the Foro Italico and the condition slowed. 

Nadal temporarily stopped the rot as he won his fist game of the set but Zverev levelled the match at a set each a game later.

That set the stage for the rollercoaster third set decider.