Rafael Nadal kept his crown as the King of Clay following his stunning comeback win over Alexander Zverev at the Italian Open on Sunday.
The Spaniard defeated Zverev 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 in a touch over two hours under the overcast skies of Rome to secure his eighth title in the Italian city.
It was an inauspicious start for Nadal, who dropped his opening service game. But the soon-to-be world number one bounced back in a big way. Nadal reeled off two games to love to go 2-1 up, after which he broke Zverev twice more to take the set.
But tennis can be strange game, as the second set proved. Those sultry Nadal forehands all of a sudden couldn’t find their mark and Zverev was quick to pounce, winning four games on the trot to force a deciding set.
Zverev took that form into the third, where he broke early and consolidated to go 3-1. The rain began to fall atouch harder as Nadal held and the the players went off the court, the momentum clearly with Zverev.
But the rain gods washed away all of Nadal’s poor form.
The 16-time grand slam winner turned on the class after the break, his accuracy second to none as he powered through five consecutive games in a row to snatch the championship away from a bemused Zverev.
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— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) 20 May 2018
The victory sees Nadal move to 32 Masters 1000 titles, extending his record at the top of that table. He will also return to the top of the ATP World Tour rankings, unseating Roger Federer, on Monday.