In his first tournament since coming back from a wrist injury, Novak Djokovic captured the Internazionali BNL d’Italia title in Rome, Italy on Sunday. The Serbian used a comeback to defeat Spain’s Rafael Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to win the third Rome tournament of his career.
“It’s been a great week considering where I’ve been a few weeks ago with the wrist injury,” said Djokovic. “Luckily for me, I played with no pain and increased the level of tennis as the week went on.”
He capped off his excellent week of tennis with a victory over the number one player in the Emirates ATP Rankings. After trading victories in the first and second sets, the two players headed into a third-set tiebreaker to decide the championship.
Halfway through the third set, Nadal began to commit some unforced errors. Djokovic was able to break serve, and controlled the match from there. On second match point, Nadal ripped a backhander that sailed long and gave the victory to Djokovic.
Djokovic smashed 46 winners to Nadal’s 15, and hit six aces while Nadal hit none. Djokovic seemed to dictate play all afternoon, as the Serbian attempts to move up the ATP Rankings with the French Open around the corner.
The victory was a little more special for Djokovic this week, as his native country has been devastated by torrential flooding recently. The Balkan regions have been hit with three months’ worth of rainfall in the last three weeks, resulting in 25 deaths and thousands without power or electricity.
“I’m trying to contribute in my own way,” said Djokovic after the match. “These are very critical times for our country and our people. But we’re being united and this win and this trophy is for them.”
Djokovic now sets his sights on Roland Garros and the French Open. It is the only Grand Slam that the Serb has yet to win in his career. Despite the loss, Nadal says he feels that he has had a solid week of tennis and is looking forward to the upcoming Grand Slam.
“I felt that Novak [Djokovic] was pushing me and has a great talent to play inside the lines,” said Nadal. “I think this week is important for me. I won 600 points. I was able to play in another final here. I was able to compete well against one of the best players of the moment. I arrive to Roland Garros now more encouraged than how I felt a few weeks ago.”