Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic claimed all 11 Rome Masters titles between 2005 and 2015, facing each other in four finals. Novak stole the crown from Rafa in 2008, and the Spaniard restored order a year later. Djokovic and Nadal met in the Rome Masters final for the first time in 2009, and the Spaniard scored a 7-6, 6-2 triumph in two hours and three minutes for his fourth Foro Italico trophy.
Nadal was a player to beat in early 2009, winning the Australian Open, Indian Wells, Monte Carlo and Barcelona to his collection ahead of another dominant run in the Italian capital. Rafa beat all five opponents in straight sets to regain the title and extend his great start in the first half of the season.
Nadal lost just 18 games in four encounters against Andreas Seppi, Robin Soderling, Fernando Verdasco and Fernando Gonzalez to sail into the title clash. Rafa faced a much more formidable rival in the defending champion, as Novak pushed him to the limits in the opening set before slowing down in the second.
It was already their 17th meeting in the last three years and the ninth at the Masters 1000 series. Nadal scored his 13th win over Djokovic and the eighth on clay in as many encounters. The Spaniard won 14 points more than the Serb, but it was another extraordinary battle between the world’s finest clay courters.
They pushed each other to the limits for over two hours and kept the crowd on the edge of their seats all the time. Nadal served at 71% and had better percentages on the first and second serve, facing four break points and giving serve away twice.
Rafael Nadal ousted Novak Djokovic in the 2009 Rome Masters final.
Novak gave his best to stay in touch with his great rival. However, he made too many unforced errors and got broken four times from five chances offered to Rafa to finish empty-handed.
The Spaniard had the edge in the shortest and longest exchanges. He forged the main difference in the mid-range rallies, outplaying Novak with his brutal pace from the baseline, especially in the second set. Djokovic made a shaky start and got broken in the encounter’s first game, which is never a good sign.
Nadal cemented the lead with a forehand winner in game two, and they both served well in the next five games. Rafa earned a set point on the return in the ninth game. He netted a backhand and wasted a massive opportunity to wrap up the opener half an hour earlier!
Novak survived that game and stepped in on the return in the next one, having one more chance to extend the battle. The Serb played well and converted his second chance when the Spaniard missed an easy forehand to gain sudden momentum.
That did not last long, though, as Nadal broke again in game 11 after Djokovic’s loose forehand. Thus, Novak ruined everything he did right in the previous game. Nonetheless, he was there to compete! Djokovic saved another set point with a superb volley Nadal barely reached and broke back thanks to the rival’s terrible forehand to set up a tie break after grueling 65 minutes.
The Spaniard got broken twice while serving for the set, but that could not break his spirit. He served great in the tie break and earned a mini-break in the fourth point when Novak’s backhand landed long. The Serb sprayed another error on serve in the eighth point, and Rafa clinched it with the third mini-break for 7-2 and a step closer to another Rome Masters title.
Novak missed a break chance in the second set’s opening game and finally started to slow down at 2-3. Nadal grabbed a break thanks to Djokovic’s costly double fault, who was now in an adamant position. A service winner sent the Spaniard 5-2 in front, putting one hand on a beautiful trophy he lost a year ago.
Rafa delivered another break in game eight with a stunning forehand winner to break Novak’s resistance and prevail after over two hours of dynamic and powerful tennis.