Internazionali BNL d'Italia
Nadal Rolls Into Fourth Rome Final
by ATP Staff|
Reigning ATP World Tour Champion Rafael Nadal cruised into his fourth final at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia after a comfortable 6-3, 6-3 victory over Fernando Gonzalez in the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tennis tournament in Rome on Saturday.
In the final Nadal will meet World No. 3 and defending champion Novak Djokovic for the 17th time after the Serbian fought back to clinch a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Roger Federer earlier on Saturday. Nadal won the pair’s most recent meeting in the final of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters two weeks ago and takes a 12-4 career lead into the clash, including 7-0 on clay. Djokovic is the only player to take a set off of Nadal on clay this year in 15 matches.
"I know tomorrow is going to be a really tough match, and I have to be playing at my 100% to have good chances to win," commented Nadal. "[The] important thing is I don't have a lot of mistakes. I have to play aggressive with my forehand and try to have control of the point with my forehand. If I don't do that it's going to be really difficult, because if he is attacking me is really tough to play against Novak."
The 22-year-old Nadal is bidding to regain the Rome title that he had won three times previously before surrendering his crown last year with a second-round loss to Juan Carlos Ferrero. The Spaniard won the title for the first time in dramatic fashion in 2005 with a gripping five-set victory over Argentine Guillermo Coria and clinched it the following year in a similarly thrilling encounter with Roger Federer, which he also won in a fifth-set tie-break. He completed his hat-trick of titles in 2007 with a comfortable straight-sets win over Fernando Gonzalez.
"Always playing in Rome is a pleasure," said Nadal. "The crowd was always fantastic with me. I remember a lot of things about the finals of here. Always the crowd supported me a lot, so it's always amazing feeling come back here and be in the final."
Since his loss to Ferrero on 7 May last year, Nadal has won 29 successive clay-court matches – including 15 in a row this season. During the winning streak he has won 69 of 73 sets and won four tour-level titles at Roland Garros, ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments in Hamburg and Monte-Carlo and in Barcelona.
In the 75-minute match on Stadio Pietrangeli on Saturday, Nadal was largely impenetrable – suffering just one break of serve after he had initially broken to lead 3-2. Once Gonzalez had levelled at 3-3 though, the Mallorcan went on to win the next nine of 12 games to improve to a 6-3 match record against the 12th-seeded Chilean - who reached the Rome final in 2007.
The left-handed Nadal is bidding for his fifth tour-level title of the season. He won his sixth Grand Slam championship, and first on hard court, with a five-set victory over Roger Federer in the Australian Open final and won his second hard-court title of the campaign at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells (d. Murray). The Manacor resident then regained his titles at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo and Barcelona for the fifth successive year. He leads the ATP World Tour with a 37-3 match record.
Nadal will look to further improve his 14-4 lifetime record in ATP World Tour Masters 1000 finals. Only Andre Agassi (17) has won more of the coveted titles, while Federer is tied with Nadal. Nadal has a 35-9 record in all tour-level finals, including an impressive 24-1 on clay.
World No. 13 Gonzalez was contesting his third ATP World Tour semi-final of the season and dropped to a 17-5 match record. He won his 11th ATP World Tour final in Vina del Mar (d. Acasuso) and lost out in the Barcelona semi-finals (l. to Ferrer) last week.