Sport Novak Djokovic piles pressure on Rafael Nadal ahead of Italian Open final

23:55  15 may  2021
23:55  15 may  2021 Source:   express.co.uk

Rafael Nadal out of Madrid Open as Alexander Zverev loss prevents Spaniard making history

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Next Gen ATP Finals . ATP Challenger Tour. TV Schedule. Rank. 3. Rafael Nadal . 33 (1987.05.22). Age. 2019. Australian Open Australia. Outdoor Hard. F. Novak Djokovic . 63 62 63.

Novak Djokovic said he was relishing locking horns with his "greatest rival" Rafael Nadal as the pair set up the 54th clash of their careers on Saturday in the Italian Open final . Djokovic battled past Argentina's Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 and meets defending champion Nadal on Sunday after the Spaniard earlier swept past Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 to reach his 50th Masters final . "It's the ultimate challenge," the Serbian world No 1 said of playing second-ranked Nadal . "I've had so many matches against him. Up to date, we had the longest rivalry of tennis of all time.

a baseball player holding a racket: Novak Djokovic © GETTY Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic hinted he may not be at 100 per cent heading into the Italian Open final against Rafael Nadal after a mammoth Saturday in which he was forced to play two matches. In less than 24 hours after his semi-final clash with Lorenzo Sonego finished, the world No 1 will try to accomplish the toughest task in tennis - beating Nadal on clay.

Djokovic's quarter-final showdown with Stefanos Tsitsipas was postponed mid-match on Friday meaning they had to continue the following morning.

That showdown went the distance with the Serbian coming from a set down to reach the next round.

Rafael Nadal rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer sent 'impossible' French Open warning

  Rafael Nadal rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer sent 'impossible' French Open warning Rafael Nadal's rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have been issued a reminder about how difficult it is to beat the Spaniard at the French Open.The 'King of Clay' saved two match points having at one point been 4-0 up inside the first 16 minutes of the match and then 6-3, 3-0 up.

Novak Djokovic will face Rafael Nadal in the Italian Open semi- final . Sign up for FREE for news on the biggest players and tournaments. Our Privacy Notice explains more about how we use your data, and your rights. You can unsubscribe at any time. Djokovic and Nadal meet in the Italian Open semi- finals on Saturday. Djokovic had to battle against Kei Nishikori but eventually came back to win 2-6, 6-1, 6-3.

Rafael Nadal powers past Novak Djokovic in the Italian Open final , earning a career first landmark over his long time rival. Alan Dawson. Rafael Nadal powered past Novak Djokovic 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 in the Italian Open final on Sunday. It was the first time a "bagel," a set won to love, had ever been won in the Nadal — Djokovic rivalry. Djokovic will have been fatigued from finishing a semifinal late on Saturday. But the victory sees Nadal claim much-needed confidence and form ahead of the French Open , the second Grand Slam event of the year, later in the month.

Italian Sonego, with the home crowd behind him, provided a much tougher task than many imagined.

The 26-year-old forced a third set but the tiring Djokovic used his experience to progress to the final, where he will meet his old enemy Nadal.

"First of all I need to recover, I don't have much time and hopefully I'll have fresh legs," Djokovic said.

a person holding a racket on a court: tennis news © GETTY tennis news

"That's what I definitely will need to have a chance against Rafa.

"He's also had some tough matches but myself with rain delays and everything which has happened... I'll give it my all."

Djokovic was slightly frustrated that he did not spend less time out court in the evening as he missed opportunities in the second set.

He added: "I missed my chances and I have only myself to blame for not closing the match in straight sets.

Rafael Nadal relives mid-match fears after quarter-final victory at Italian Open

  Rafael Nadal relives mid-match fears after quarter-final victory at Italian Open Spanish ace is set for semi-final action in Rome on Saturday afternoon.The Spanish ace, who is seeded second for the clay-court tournament, defeated Germany's Zverev in Friday's quarter-final clash.

Rafael Nadal overcame Novak Djokovic 7-6, 6-3 in the 51st meeting between the two in Rome to reach the Italian Open final . It seems odd that Rafael Nadal ’s domination on clay in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Paris has not been so evident in Rome, where he has a mere seven titles and last appeared in the semi- finals four years ago. Still, he will hardly complain and he will be mightily happy if he wins on Sunday as it will haul him back to No 1 in the world above the absent Roger Federer.

Novak Djokovic SNUBS Roger Federer with Rafael Nadal claim ahead of Italian Open final . NOVAK DJOKOVIC has named Rafael Nadal as his ‘greatest rival’, snubbing Roger Federer. Rafael Nadal beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in his semi- final after Roger Federer was forced to retire, setting up an exciting clash between the top two ranked male players. “He keeps on showing to the world why he's one of the biggest legends of tennis history," Djokovic said of his next opponent Nadal to the official ATP website.

"I could have and should have done it.

"He is showing why he reached his first semi-finals. He is a quality player and very dynamic.

"To play against him, with a crowd behind him, it was an electric atmosphere behind him."

Earlier in the day Nadal beat big-serving American Reilly Opelka.

"I think I did the thing that I had to do," the 20-time Grand Slam winner said in his post-match interview. "Of course it is not an easy or beautiful match to play against Reilly.

"You don't have rhythm and you only have a few options on your return.

"He can play very aggressive from the baseline. He has good shots and that's what happened at the beginning of the match and it was super important for me to save those moments."

Novak Djokovic reacts to Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer draw ahead of French Open .
Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are preparing to battle it out for glory at the French Open.The shock draw marks the first occasion that Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have been grouped together at a major tournament and opens up a spot in the final for the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Dominic Thiem.

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