Despite giving it the old college try, neither the rain nor David Ferrer could alter Rafael Nadal’s destiny. In the finals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia ATP Masters 1000, Nadal bested Ferrer 7-5,6-2 to grab his fifth trophy in Rome. In addition to garnering his 27th clay court title, Nadal tied Andre Agassi’s record of 17 Masters shields.
Following two easy service holds, Ferrer sent a forehand crosscourt long to face double break point. With two un-returnable serves, Ferrer got to deuce. After dismissing five break points, with a forehand crosscourt winner, Ferrer held for 3-2. The subsequent game, Ferrer had 15-30 with a crosscourt backhand pass for a winner. However, Nadal connected on a few forehand winners to guard serve. Then, by double faulting and netting a forehand, Ferrer was behind 0-30. Still, by serving well and being aggressive at the right time, Ferrer maintain serve for 4-3. Upon the heels of an uncomplicated game by Nadal, with Ferrer at play and 40-15, sprinkles turned into heavy rain causing the match to be suspended.
After nearly an hour intermission, Ferrer double faulted when play resumed. Yet, with a return error by Nadal, Ferrer stayed ahead 5-4. Next, with two consecutive miscues by Nadal, Ferrer had a 0-30 opening. Unfortunately, Ferrer misfired on a second serve return. With three additional errors, Nadal equalized the set. Subsequent to committing a double fault to allow a third game point to evaporate, Ferrer’s mistakes on two forehands gave Nadal the break and a 6-5 edge. Later, Ferrer crushed a backhand crosscourt return resulting in an error by Nadal on the next stroke and Ferrer’s first break point. However, that break point was quickly wiped off when Ferrer sent a return long. With a forehand volley winner, Nadal arrived at set point. Nadal converted when Ferrer’s return missed its destination.
Ferrer started out the second set with mistakes leading to 15-40. But, with well struck serves, Ferrer got to deuce. Then, with a volley winner off a dropshot, Ferrer carried the game for 1-0. After a comfortable hold, Nadal terminated a long rally with a volley winner for 0-15. Perhaps feeling the effect of the prior point, Ferrer committed two miscues to hand Nadal triple break point. Although Ferrer got to deuce, because a few more errors, Nadal eventually captured the break. Again, there was a prolonged pause due to rain. Upon returning, with backhand down the line winner, Nadal consolidated at love for a 3-1 lead. Following an easy game, Ferrer placed pressure on Nadal at 30 all. Once more, let down by his forehand, Ferrer failed to progress further as Nadal maintained serve for 4-2. Then, with back to back double faults, Ferrer eyed double break point. As another of Ferrer’s forehand landed long, Nadal widened his advantage to 5-2. Next, with a forehand volley winner, Nadal had double championship point. When Ferrer’s returned sailed out of play, Nadal secured for the fifth time consecutive Masters shields in Rome and Monte-Carlo.
This was another clay tournament where the Spaniards reigned supreme. In the semifinals, Ferrer battled compatriot Fernando Verdasco. Ferrer overcame a 1-5 deficit in the first set to prevail in straight sets 7-5,6-3 thereby ending a three match losing streak to Verdasco. Later on, Latvian Ernests Gulbis, who shocked Roger Federer in the second round, clashed with Nadal. Nadal had his hands full. Even though Gulbis went down, the Latvian is the sole competitor to steal a set from the Spaniard this clay season. So far this year, Gulbis has recorded two major milestones; his maiden career title in Delray and now his first Masters 1000 semifinal. From 40th, Gulbis’ ranking jump up.
Although Ferrer was a finalist at the 2007 Tennis Masters Cup, this was his initial final in a full-fledged Masters series event. With 23 wins on clay and a title in Acapulco, Ferrer leads the tour with 29 victories. Today, Ferrer was attempting to plug a run of six straight losses to Nadal. Despite coming short, Ferrer’s ranking will get a boost from 17.
Prior to the singles, Mike and Bob Bryan collected their 60th career title by defeating John Isner and Sam Querrey 6-3,6-2. The American duo is one trophy short of equalizing the all time mark set by Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge. Thus, Nadal and the Bryan Brothers share something in common; both are on the threshold of making history with their next triumph.