Spain's Rafael Nadal has won his record sixth Italian Open, defeating Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-3 in a rain-delayed final, regaining the world's number two ranking in the process. It was a re-match of the 2011 Italian Open finals, where Djokovic was hoping to defend his title. Nadal has now won two straight finals against Djokovic this year. Before these wins, he had lost seven straight finals. Nadal first won against Djokovic this year on clay at the Monte Carlo Masters.
"He is the favorite, even if I win against him seven times; he is the best player in the world on this surface," said Djokovic. Nadal has won 35 of his 49 career titles on clay.
"I had to be focused all the time, his return is unbelievable. I suffered a lot on every serve but I was very, very focused," said Nadal.
Djokovic made 41 unforced errors, including a double-fault that cost him the match. Last year, he won against Nadal in straight sets. Similarly, Nadal won the match in straight sets this year.
"I think that the match was quite close, even if he won in straight sets. If you don't use the opportunities against Rafa he gets momentum," said Djokovic. Nadal did not lose a set during the entire tournament.
Nadal is a six-time champion at the French Open and Djokovic will be looking to win his first title there. He has beaten Nadal in the finals of all other three Grand Slam titles—Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and Australian Open. With Nadal regaining the number two spot in the ATP Men's Singles Rankings, he and Djokovic will be on opposite sides of the draw at Roland Garros.