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Nadal, Djokovic To Clash For Rome Title

Rome, Italy

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• FINAL CHARGE: World No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Novak Djokovic meet for the 41st time in Sunday’s blockbuster Internazionali BNL d’Italia final. Seven-time champion Nadal edges their tightly-contested FedEx H2H series 22-18, but it’s two-time winner Djokovic that has had the upper hand of late, running out a straight sets winner in their last three outings. It’s on clay where the Spaniard has enjoyed most of his success over his Serbian foe, winning 13 of their 16 meetings on the surface.

• WHAT’S AT STAKE: Winner: €549,000 and 1,000 Emirates ATP Ranking points
                                      Finalist: €269,150 and 600 Emirates ATP Ranking points 

• DECADE OF DOMINANCE: For the 10th year in a row, the Internazionali BNL d’Italia trophy will be lifted by either Nadal or Djokovic. The Spaniard has won seven titles in the Italian capital, emerging victorious in 2005 (d. Coria), 2006 (d. Federer), 2007 (d. Gonzalez), 2009 (d. Djokovic), 2010 (d. Ferrer), 2012 (d. Djokovic) and 2013 (d. Federer). Djokovic is bidding for his third Rome title, having won in 2008 (d. Wawrinka) and 2011 (d. Nadal).

• RIVALRY RENEWED: This will be the 41st meeting between Nadal and Djokovic, which is the most frequent Open Era match-up. The pair has met 40 times in total (Nadal 22-18 Djokovic) - 21 times on hard courts (Nadal 7-14 Djokovic); 16 times on clay (Nadal 13-3 Djokovic); and three times on grass (Nadal 2-1 Djokovic). 

• MILESTONE WATCH: Both Nadal and Djokovic are bidding for landmark wins today. Nadal is one title shy of Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras’ haul of 64 and victory today would see him draw level with the two ATP legends in fifth place on the Open Era titles leaderboard, while Djokovic is one win short of Thomas Muster (44) in 13th place. 

• NADAL ON CLAY: The Spaniard enters the final with an 18-2 record on clay this year. The last time he lost more than two matches on the surface in a season was 2004 (14-3). For the past nine years (2005-13), he has won at least two European clay court titles coming into Roland Garros. Nadal’s wins over Gilles Simon (199 minutes – longest best-of-three set match this year), Mikhail Youzhny (164 mins) and Andy Murray (161 mins) were three of the four longest matches in Rome this week. 

• CLAY-COURT TITLE LEADERS: After his success in Madrid last weekend, Nadal is now just two clay-court titles away from equaling Guillermo Vilas’ all-time record of 46 crowns on the surface. He could move to within one of Vilas’ haul after today’s final. The top five all-time title leaders on clay are Vilas (46), Nadal (44), Thomas Muster (40), Bjorn Borg and Manuel Orantes (both 30). Djokovic has won eight of his 43 career titles on clay. 

• MASTERING THE 1000s: Djokovic has been the standout player at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level in recent times, winning four of the last five he has contested – Shanghai, Paris, Indian Wells and Miami. Since falling to John Isner in the QFs in Cincinnati last year, the Serb has posted a 27-1 mark at Masters 1000s with his only loss coming in the SFs in Monte-Carlo to Roger Federer. The 26 year old, who also captured the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in November, is bidding for a 19th Masters 1000 crown this week and if successful he will move to within two of Federer’s haul (21). 

• ATP MASTERS 1000 WINS: Nadal is looking to close the gap on Federer in M1000 match wins while chasing a record 28th crown at this level. He’s won a M1000 title every year since 2005. M1000 Title Leaders: Nadal (27), Federer (21), Djokovic (18), Agassi (17), Sampras (11), Murray (9), Muster (8) and Chang (7). 

• NORMAL SERVICE RESUMED: With Nadal and Djokovic in the final, a member of the “Big Four” will once more lay claim to a ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title. Stan Wawrinka had broken up their domination of Masters 1000 events when he fended off Federer to win his maiden crown at this level in Monte-Carlo earlier in the clay-court swing. In the 36 Masters 1000 tournaments before Monte-Carlo, Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and Murray had accounted for 34 titles (28 of the past 29 since 2011). The only exceptions over the last four years had come in Paris-Bercy in 2010 (Soderling) and 2012 (Ferrer). Since Monte-Carlo last year, Nadal and Djokovic have won 10 of the last 11 Masters 1000 crowns, which will become 11 of the last 12 after today. 

• 2014 MATCH-WIN LEADERS: Nadal, who will be bidding for his 35th win of the season today, leads the way in terms of match wins this season. Djokovic has posted a 23-3 mark this year.

• 2014 TITLE LEADERS:
Nadal and Djokovic are two of six multiple title winners on Tour this year. Wawrinka and Nadal lead the way with three apiece – Nadal (Doha, Rio, Madrid), Wawrinka (Chennai, Australian Open, Monte-Carlo), Cilic (Zagreb, Delray Beach), Djokovic (Indian Wells, Miami), Dimitrov (Acapulco, Bucharest) and Nishikori (Memphis, Barcelona). Coming into Madrid there had been 11 different champions on clay in as many tournaments this year, but Nadal ended that streak by winning the title in the Spanish capital – his second on the surface in 2014. Djokovic is bidding for his first clay-court title since winning Monte-Carlo last year. 

DAY 8 FEDEX ATP HEAD 2 HEADS

CENTRALE

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs [2] Novak Djokovic (SRB)


FedEx Head 2 Head: Nadal leads 22-18
2006 Roland Garros (France) Clay QF Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-4 ret
2007 ATP Masters Series Indian Wells (U.S.A.) Hard F Rafael Nadal 6-2 7-5
2007 ATP Masters Series Miami (U.S.A.) Hard QF Novak Djokovic 6-3 6-4
2007 ATP Masters Series Rome (Italy) Clay QF Rafael Nadal 6-2 6-3
2007 Roland Garros (France) Clay SF Rafael Nadal 7-5 6-4 6-2
2007 Wimbledon (Great Britain) Grass SF Rafael Nadal 3-6 6-1 4-1 ret
2007 ATP Masters Series Canada (Canada) Hard SF Novak Djokovic 7-5 6-3
2007 Tennis Masters Cup (China) Hard RR Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-4
2008 ATP Masters Series Indian Wells (U.S.A.) Hard SF Novak Djokovic 6-3 6-2
2008 ATP Masters Series Hamburg (Germany) Clay SF Rafael Nadal 7-5 2-6 6-2
2008 Roland Garros (France) Clay SF Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-2 7-6(3)
2008 London / Queen's Club (Great Britain) Grass F Rafael Nadal 7-6(6) 7-5
2008 ATP Masters Series Cincinnati (U.S.A.) Hard SF Novak Djokovic 6-1 7-5
2008 Beijing Olympics (China) Hard SF Rafael Nadal 6-4 1-6 6-4
2009 ESP vs. SRB WG 1st RD (Spain) Clay RR Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-4 6-1
2009 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte Carlo Clay F Rafael Nadal 6-3 2-6 6-1
2009 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome (Italy) Clay F Rafael Nadal 7-6(2) 6-2
2009 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Madrid Clay SF Rafael Nadal 3-6 7-6(5) 7-6(9)
2009 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Cincinnati Hard SF Novak Djokovic 6-1 6-4
2009 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Paris Hard SF Novak Djokovic 6-2 6-3
2009 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals (England) Hard RR Novak Djokovic 7-6(5) 6-3
2010 US Open (U.S.A.) Hard F Rafael Nadal 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2
2010 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals (England) Hard RR Rafael Nadal 7-5 6-2
2011 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells Hard F Novak Djokovic 4-6 6-3 6-2
2011* ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami Hard F Novak Djokovic 4-6 6-3 7-6(4)
2011* ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Madrid Clay F Novak Djokovic 7-5 6-4
2011* ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome (Italy) Clay F Novak Djokovic 6-4 6-4
2011* Wimbledon (Great Britain) Grass F Novak Djokovic 6-4 6-1 1-6 6-3
2011* US Open (U.S.A.) Hard F Novak Djokovic 6-2 6-4 6-7(3) 6-1
2012* Australian Open (Australia) Hard F Novak Djokovic 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-7(5) 7-5
2012* ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte Carlo Clay F Rafael Nadal 6-3 6-1
2012 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome (Italy) Clay F Rafael Nadal 7-5 6-3
2012* Roland Garros (France) Clay F Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-3 2-6 7-5
2013 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Monte Carlo Clay F Novak Djokovic 6-2 7-6(1)
2013 Roland Garros (France) Clay SF Rafael Nadal 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-7(3) 9-7
2013 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Canada Hard SF Rafael Nadal 6-4 3-6 7-6(2)
2013* US Open (U.S.A.) Hard F Rafael Nadal 6-2 3-6 6-4 6-1
2013* Beijing (China) Hard F Novak Djokovic 6-3 6-4
2013* Barclays ATP World Tour Finals Hard F Novak Djokovic 6-3 6-4
2014* ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami Hard F Novak Djokovic 6-3 6-3

*Those with a star mark the encounters in which both players were ranked No. 1 and 2 in the world

• Nadal is contesting his 40th ATP Masters 1000 final (27-12), 91st overall (63-27) and ninth in Rome (7-1). 
• After three lengthy three-set matches, Nadal cruised past Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2 to secure his 51st successive victory in a clay-court SF. The Spaniard outlasted Andy Murray 1-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the QF, winning 68% of points (24 of 35) on the Scot’s second serve. In the 3R, Nadal recovered from a set and 2-0 down to defeat No. 14 seed Mikhail Youzhny 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-1, reeling off 11 of the last 12 games. He opened the defence of his title with a 7-6(1), 6-7(4), 6-2 victory over Gilles Simon on Wednesday in three hours and 19 minutes – the longest best-of-three-set match this year. 
• Nadal’s opening three wins were three of the four longest matches in Rome this week. 
• Nadal ranks No. 3 in return games won this week with 39% (20 of 51). Coming into this week, he was second on the ATP World Tour in this category this year with 35%, behind David Ferrer only. 
• Nadal returns to Rome for the 10th time. He has now reached the final in nine of his 10 outings here, winning the title seven times: 2005 (d. Coria), 2006 (d. Federer), 2007 (d. Gonzalez), 2009 (d. Djokovic), 2010 (d. Ferrer), 2012 (d. Djokovic) and 2013 (d. Federer). 
• Nadal opened the season by defeating Gael Monfils to clinch the title in Doha. Qatar was the 17th different country the Spaniard had lifted an ATP title in. 
• Nadal collected his 43rd clay-court title and 62nd overall when he defeated Dolgopolov in the inaugural Rio Open final in February. 
• Nadal arrived in Rome after winning his 27th ATP Masters 1000 title in Madrid last week (d. Nishikori in the F). He took sole ownership of seventh place on the Open Era titles leaderboard with the victory, surpassing Guillermo Vilas
• Nadal appeared in a career-high 14 finals in 2013, winning 10 titles. He returned to No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on October 7 and finished the season in top spot for the third time. 
• Nadal has been ranked in the top five longer than any active player (since May 9, 2005) and his total of 62 career titles is the second-best among active players (Federer 77). 
• Djokovic is contesting his 29th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final (18-10), 65th overall (43-21) and fifth in Rome (2-2).
• Djokovic took just over three hours to see off Milos Raonic in the SF, squeezing past the Canadian 6-7(5), 7-6(4), 6-3 while fending off seven of eight BPs on his serve. The Serb edged world No. 5 David Ferrer 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 32 minutes in the QF after overcoming Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 in the 3R. He opened his account with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Radek Stepanek, winning 73% of points on the Czech’s second serve.  
• Djokovic returns to Rome for the eighth time. He has never fallen before the QF stage here, lifting the title in 2008 (d. Wawrinka) and 2011 (d. Nadal). He fell to Berdych in the QF last year. 
• This is Djokovic’s first tournament outing since falling in the Monte-Carlo SF to Federer. The Serb was looking to become the first player to win five ATP Masters 1000 titles in a row and the first three Masters 1000 events of the year before falling in the Principality. 
• A right wrist injury, which afflicted him in Monte-Carlo, forced him out of Madrid last week.  
• Djokovic had a successful March in the U.S. The Serb completed the Indian Wells/Miami sweep for the second time in his career, defeating Roger Federer in the BNP Paribas Open final before seeing off Rafael Nadal in the Sony Open Tennis final. He surpassed Andre Agassi in both Masters 1000 titles (18) and Masters 1000 match wins with his Miami victory.
• Djokovic’s other competitive outings this year came at the Australian Open (l. to eventual champ Wawrinka in QF) and Dubai (l. to eventual champ Federer in SF).
• Djokovic finished 2013 in the top three for the seventh year in a row, winning seven titles in nine finals (2nd-most in career). He ended the year on a 24-match winning streak. 

NADAL IN CLAY FINALS: Nadal is 44-6 in clay finals, but three of those six defeats came at the hands of Djokovic. The other three were Federer (twice) and Horacio Zeballos. Here's a year-by-year look at his clay court dominance since he played his first match in 2002. Since 2005, he has compiled a 285-13 clay court match record (.956) on the ATP World Tour, never losing more than two clay matches in a season during that stretch:

YEAR W-L CLAY FINALS
2014 18-2 2-0
2013 39-2 6-2 (l. to Zeballos, Djokovic)
2012 23-1 4-0
2011 28-2 3-2 (l. to Djokovic in both)
2010 22-0 4-0 
2009 24-2 3-1 (l. to Federer)
2008 24-1 4-0
2007 31-1 5-1 (l. to Federer)
2006 26-0 4-0
2005 50-2 8-0
2004 14-3 1-0
2003 11-6 0-0
2002 1-1 0-0

DOUBLES FINAL

[6] Daniel Nestor (CAN) & Nenad Zimonjic (SRB) vs Robin Haase (NED) & Feliciano Lopez (ESP)


• Nestor is seeking his fourth Rome title and Zimonjic his third. They won here as a team in 2009, while Nestor teamed up with Mark Knowles to win in 1997 and 2006 and Zimonjic emerged victorious alongside Fabrice Santoro in 2007.
• Nestor and Zimonjic are on the hunt for their 27th ATP doubles crown as a team. The pair triumphed last week at the Mutua Madrid Open, ending Bob and Mike Bryan’s 24-match winning streak in the final. They also clinched the title at the Apia International Sydney at the beginning of the year (d. Bopanna/Qureshi) before falling in the final in both Dubai and Barcelona. Nestor also lifted the Brisbane title alongside Mariusz Fyrstenberg in the opening week of the season. 
• Nestor took sole ownership of third place in the Open Era doubles title leaderboard with the win in Madrid, surpassing Todd Woodbridge’s haul of 83. The Canadian veteran now sits on 84 titles, behind Mike Bryan (100) and Bob Bryan (98).
• Zimonjic, who notched his 600th career win in Madrid, is seeking his 52nd ATP doubles title today. If the Serb is successful he will join Mahesh Bhupathi in 22nd place on the Open Era title leaderboard.
• Nestor is contesting his 140th doubles final (84-55); Zimonjic is appearing in his 85th (51-33).
• Haase and Lopez, who have yet to drop a set this week, are partnering for the first time.  
• As individuals, Haase and Lopez each have one doubles title to their name. Haase lifted his one and only team crown in Marseille in 2011 alongside Ken Skupski, while Lopez’s lone success came almost a decade ago in Stockholm with Fernando Verdasco. Haase has fallen in four finals and Lopez has lost in five, including earlier this year in Acapulco (w/Mirnyi). 

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