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Djokovic vs Nadal ATP Rome live streaming, preview and tips - Djokovic and Nadal chase record-breaking 34th Masters 1000 title

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 19 May 2019
  • Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal is live from Rome at 4.00pm local time on Sunday (3.00pm BST)
  • Djokovic leads their head-to-head 28-25 and has won nine of their last 11 encounters, but Nadal is up 16-7 on clay
Novak Djokovic (PA Images)

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic aims for back-to-back ATP Masters 1000 titles when he renews his legendary rivalry with Rafael Nadal in the Rome Masters final on Sunday.

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Either Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal will capture a record 34th Masters 1000 title as the two titans of tennis clash for a 54th time in the Rome Masters final on Sunday. Djokovic leads their overall head-to-head 28-25 and has won nine of their last 11 encounters, but Nadal has been the dominant force on clay, claiming 16 of their 23 matches on the surface, including four of seven in Rome. The pair are split at 2-2 in Rome finals - who moves ahead and creates a slice of history for themselves in the Italian city on Sunday?

After beating Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas to secure the Madrid Masters title without dropping a set last week, Djokovic has continued his great form in Rome, but it’s been a much tougher trek to the final. It all started with the complete wash-out on Wednesday, which meant Djokovic - like the bulk of the draw - had to play two matches on Thursday, a test he passed with minimal fuss as he breezed past Denis Shapovalov and Philipp Kohlschreiber, but since then, the Serbian has been fighting for survival. Djokovic saved two match points to edge Juan Martin del Potro in a late-night quarter-final thriller that finished at 1.00am, while he was once again extended to three sets by another Argentine in Saturday’s semi-finals, defeating Diego Schwartzman 6-3 6-7(2) 6-3.

“He came out with the right game plan. He was hitting the ball clean. He was hitting it fast. He was mixing up the pace... It was really hard to read the play,” Djokovic said of Schwartzman, who was contesting his first Masters 1000 semi-final.

While his last couple of matches have been understandably tough, Djokovic certainly appears to be getting back to some of his best tennis. Madrid was obviously a big step in the right direction after some early defeats in Indian Wells, Miami and Monte-Carlo, while Djokovic’s early round performances in Rome were extremely impressive. Timing is everything in most sports, and Djokovic has been peaking for the slams over the last 10 months or so, winning Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and Australian Open in dominant fashion, while he’s lost finals in Paris and London at the end of 2018 and suffered those aforementioned defeats at the three previous Masters 1000s before Madrid, while he also lost to Roberto Bautista Agut in Doha to begin the season.

There’s no doubt Djokovic has rightly got one eye on completing a second ‘Nole Slam’ at the upcoming French Open, and with a taxing last fortnight under his belt in Madrid and Rome, you’ve got to wonder how he’s approaching a final with the King of Clay on Sunday. Obviously Djokovic wants to win, but there’s bigger fish to fry for him over the coming weeks - however, that’s also the case for his opponent.

Rafael Nadal (PA Images)
But perhaps the difference is this - Rafael Nadal is still trying to build some significant momentum heading into Roland Garros, which makes him extra dangerous in Sunday’s showpiece. The Spaniard has been as dominant as ever in Rome this week after suffering three straight shock semi-final eliminations in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid to Fabio Fognini, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas respectively, winning a ‘bagel set’ in three straight matches to start the tournament (the first time in history he has achieved that feat) and holding 31 of his 32 services games in reaching his 11th final in the Italian city.


Nadal, who arrived in Rome without a title for the first time since 2004, was able to avenge his Madrid semi-final loss to Tsitsipas on Saturday, playing a much better match as he dispatched the Greek by a 6-3 6-4 scoreline. Nadal was able to hit with more depth in Rome and generally dictated the match from on top of the baseline with his lethal topspin forehand.

"[It] is [an] important victory for me because I played a solid match against a good player and a player who is winning lot of matches on this surface," Nadal said. "So winning in straight sets against him is a very positive result. More than this is a feeling that I am playing better every week, every day. That's important for me."

Nadal has looked better with each tournament on clay after recovering from a knee injury that forced his withdrawal from the Indian Wells semi-finals, and like Djokovic, looks to be peaking at exactly the right time. Can he cap a great week by capturing a ninth Rome Masters title and successfully defend his crown from last year?

I think he starts favourite, despite Djokovic winning nine of their last 11 matches. Nadal hasn’t been dragged into any discomfort whatsoever so far in Rome, while Djokovic has been involved in two back-to-back three-setters, one of which finished at 1.00am. It’s been a taxing fortnight for the Serbian, especially when you consider he hasn’t played that much consecutive tennis since the Australian Open, and as I mentioned earlier, I can’t help but feel Djokovic has got one eye on the French Open. Nadal, I feel, needs this victory more than Djokovic does for his own confidence and belief, especially if they are to clash for the French Open title in a few weeks. The Spaniard has been dominant all week and has a great chance to claim a morale-boosting win over his greatest rival and secure a record 34th Masters 1000 title on Sunday.


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Djokovic vs Nadal ATP Rome live streaming, preview and tips - Djokovic and Nadal chase record-breaking 34th Masters 1000 title

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic aims for back-to-back ATP Masters 1000 titles when he renews his legendary rivalry with Rafael Nadal in the Rome Masters final on Sunday.

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