Rafael Nadal sealed a record-extending 10th Rome Masters title with a 7-5 1-6 6-3 win over Novak Djokovic at the Internazionali d’Italia.
It marked the first Masters 1000 triumph of the year for Nadal, who improved to 4-2 in the finals he has played against Djokovic at the Foro Italico venue.
The victory also secured Nadal a 36th Masters 1000 crown, moving him to level with Djokovic’s all-time record since the series was established in 1990.
Djokovic spent almost five hours on court on Saturday in his rain-delayed quarter-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas and subsequent semi-final triumph over Lorenzo Sonego.
But he showed no signs of fatigue in the opening stages in Rome.
The Serbian broke in Nadal’s first service game to go 2-0 up, although Spaniard Nadal hit back in the next game before levelling matters at 2-2.
Nadal then broke again, taking advantage of an unconvincing service game from Djokovic at 5-5 on his way to sealing the opening set in one hour and 15 minutes.
Djokovic survived a breakpoint at 1-1 in the second set, before breaking Nadal in the next game to move 3-1 ahead.
The Serbian reeled off five games in a row in all, setting up set-point with his fifth ace of the match.
He forced a backhand error from Nadal to take the second set in 43 minutes.
Nadal saved two break points at 2-2 in the final set, which provided him with the confidence to break to love and open up a 4-2 lead.
He sealed victory in two hours and 50 minutes, converting his second championship point when Djokovic sent a backhand long.