ATP HERITAGE PROGRAMME
ATP Heritage: A Great Rome Final, A Great Rivalry
2006 Rome Final Anniversary
by James Buddell|
This week marks the seventh anniversary of one of the greatest clay-court finals in ATP World Tour history.
Nadal, aged 19, underlined his aura of invincibility on clay, by recording his 53rd straight win on the surface, to tie Guillermo Vilas’ mark, and draw level with Bjorn Borg with 16 titles as a teenager.
Nadal, the defending champion in Rome, rallied on three occasions in the deciding set. From a 2-4 deficit; when he saved two championship points at 5-6, 15/40, and once again at 3-5 in the tie-break.
His 6-7(0), 7-6(5), 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(5) victory, which took five hours and five minutes, was his fifth win in six matches against Federer and ensured that it will live long in the memory.
Djokovic, Federer and Nadal are three of the 16 year-end No. 1s honoured in the ATP Heritage Programme, launched this year to celebrate the 40th year of the Emirates ATP Rankings.
The late 1970s and 1980s provided several great rivalries, which heightened global interest in tennis.
Two great grass-court performers Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg, who memorably contested the 1988-1990 Wimbledon finals, met 35 times (Becker 25-10), while 16 of Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras’ 34 contests came in title deciders between 1990 and 2002.
In ATP World Tour history, Federer and Nadal have contested a record 19 finals, followed by Lendl and McEnroe with 18 championship matches and Becker-Edberg, Agassi-Sampras and Djokovic-Nadal on 16.