The ‘King of Clay’ Rafael Nadal has won his first title of 2019 by defeating world number one Novak Djokovic 6-0 4-6 6-1 in the Italian Open final in Rome.
The Spaniard raced through the opener in 39 minutes, before Djokovic battled back in the secondset, but Nadal sealed his ninth Italian Open title in two hours, 25 minutes.
It was his 81st tournament win and it takes him 34-33 ahead of Djokovic in Masters 1,000 Series titles.
Victory is a boost before the French Open for Nadal, who was beaten by Djokovic in the Australian Open final in January, and had lost at the semi-final stage in his past four tournaments.
Since 2005, Nadal has won at least one of the nine Masters 1,000 events in a season every year except 2015.
The Italian Open victory is Nadal’s ninth title in Rome; a record 34th Masters title; but most significantly a first clay court title of the year for Nadal a week before the start of Roland Garros.
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