Rafael Nadal takes advantage of rain delay to down Alexander Zverev and clinch eighth Italian Open title

0
7

Rafael Nadal took full advantage of a weather delay to beat defending champion Alexander Zverev in a roller coaster final of the Italian Open in Rome.

Nadal was a break down in the decider when rain forced a second stoppage of the match, with Zverev having won nine of the previous 12 games. And when play resumed after a delay of 50 minutes, Nadal immediately broke back and won four games in succession to seal a 6-1 1-6 6-3 victory.

A 32nd Masters 1000 title and eighth in Rome will take Nadal back to world number one on Monday, the 31-year-old having relinquished top spot with a quarter-final defeat to Dominic Thiem in Madrid last week.

Zverev went on to win in Madrid for back-to-back titles after victory in Munich and looked set to make it a hat-trick after recovering from losing six games in succession in the opening set.

The 21-year-old, who had lost all four of his previous meetings with Nadal, raced into a 5-0 lead in the second set and Nadal breathed a sigh of relief after getting a game on the board to avoid a first bagel on clay since 2007.

After serving out for the set, Zverev broke in the opening game of the decider and was ahead 3-2 when a lengthy stoppage for rain – the first had lasted only a few minutes – ultimately swung the momentum of the contest firmly in Nadal’s favour.

PA

Follow the Independent Sport on Instagram here, for all of the best images, videos and stories from around the sporting world.