INTERNAZIONALI BNL D'ITALIA 2012
Nadal Closes On Sixth Rome Crown
by ATP Staff|
Rafael Nadal will play for a record 21st ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown when he contests the final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia for the seventh time on Sunday. The left-hander overcame fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 7-6(6), 6-0 in Saturday’s semi-finals.
"[It is the] best thing possible after a fantastic time in Barcelona and Monte-Carlo, to keep playing in a clay tournament and then being in the final without losing a set is something fantastic and I am happy," declared Nadal. "Rome for me is an important tournament and I am here for the seventh time and I couldn't have imagined this a few years ago."
Three weeks on from contesting the Barcelona final, Nadal once again bested his countryman to improve to a 15-4 lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. In an intense first set, Nadal saved nine of 10 break points as one service break each was exchanged. In the subsequent tie-break, the Mallorcan rallied from a 1-3 deficit and converted his second set point after 85 minutes.
The disappointment of losing the first set effectively ended Ferrer’s challenge. The Valencia resident was broken three times in the second set as he succumbed to the rampant Nadal in just over two hours. The 30-year-old Ferrer was bidding to reach his fifth ATP World Tour final of the season and dropped to a 33-7 match record.
"The first set was unbelievable, how David set the match with amazing rhythm and aggression," said Nadal. "His movements were unbelievably good and so I did the best possible for me. The thing that I tried to do was to maintain the score close. After the first seven games of the match [it was] more equal; before it was not."
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"It was close in the first set but tennis is like this," said Ferrer. "I won I think three matches this week and today I couldn't win the tie-break, but to beat Rafael I needed to. When I lost the first game and my serve then it was more difficult to do winners and he played better."
World No. 3 Nadal will attempt to win the title at the Foro Italico for the sixth time. He lifted the trophies from 2005-2007 and 2009-2010 before being dethroned by Novak Djokovic in the 2011 final.
The Manacor native has lost just one clay-court match this season (14-1 record). He won his 20th Masters 1000 crown in Monte-Carlo (d. Djokovic) and beat Ferrer in Barcelona before falling in the Madrid third round (l. to Verdasco) last week.
In the final he will face defending champion Djokovic, whom he defeated last month in the Monte-Carlo final. Prior to that victory, Nadal had lost seven successive meetings with the Serb, including in this year’s Australian Open final.