>> Sunday, May 20, 2012
For the third time this year, world no. 1 Novak Djokovic will square off with no. 3 Rafael Nadal in a highly anticipated final showdown in the 2012 Internazionali BNL d’Italia held at Roma, Foro Italico. Djokovic and Nadal became the first two players to play back-to-back finals in the history of the Rome tennis tournament. The rivals have split both matches this year with Djokovic claiming the bigger prize in downing Nadal at the Australian Open final in January in a riveting five-set triumph. Their last meeting was won convincingly by Nadal at the Monte-Carlo final last month. That win broke Djokovic's seven-match winning streak against the Spaniard.
Watch the Djokovic vs Nadal men's singles final live online at the Rome Masters 2012 here. The live telecast will start at 4pm local time from court CENTRALE at the Foro Italico. UPDATE: Due to persistent rain, the men's singles final originally slated for Sunday was moved to Monday, May 21 - starting at 12:00 noon local time.
Nadal advanced to the finals by continuing his mastery over a hapless fellow Spaniard in world no. 6 David Ferrer. Before their semifinal, Nadal had a dominant 14-4 record against the Spanish no. 2. Much as Ferrer was able to stay with Nadal in the first set forcing a tiebreak, Nadal eventually ran roughshod over Ferrer in the second set winning all six games for a final scoreline of 7-6(6), 6-0. It was the disappointment of losing the first set in such a close manner that Ferrer seemed to have lost any hope of winning and much as he did try, the Nadal game proved simply too strong. Nadal improved to 15-4 over Ferrer and he is now a step away from claiming a sixth title in Rome and ascending back to the no. 2 ranking he lost earlier this week.
The other semifinal featured a rare semifinal match-up between the world's top two players. Earlier this week, Federer grabbed the no. 2 ranking spot from Nadal but because the tournament seeds were based on rankings the week earlier, Federer was seeded no. 3 and landed in Djokovic's half of the draw. And when the much anticipated semifinal was over, it was the defending champion Djokovic who was left standing after a tough 6-2, 7-6(4) victory. The win allowed Djokovic to avenge a clay court loss to Federer, the player who dismissed him in last year's French Open. The loss last year was not only Djokovic's first on clay, but it was his first for the season as he was then riding an unparalleled 43-match winning streak.
Now that he has gained his revenge over Federer, top-ranked Djokovic will be aiming for another revenge win but this time, against Nadal - the undisputed best clay court tennis player of his generation - and considered by most as the best of all time in this surface. Last year, Djokovic demolished Nadal in a straight set win in Rome's final to grant Nadal his first two consecutive losses on clay to the same player. The Serb went on to continue his dominance over Nadal prevailing seven straight times, all in finals including the last three grand slam championship matches, before Nadal finally broke that spell by beating Djokovic in the Monte-Carlo final last month.
If discussions in tennis forums were to be believed, the loss in Monte-Carlo came at a time that Djokovic was grieving the death of his grandfather who died that week and that result shouldn't really be counted. But tomorrow, both players will be in their best condition and so many fans will be hoping for a very close, tough and exciting match. While Nadal is gunning for a sixth title in Rome, Djokovic is going for his third trophy. The winner tomorrow will not just be leaving the tournament with yet another clay court title, but more importantly, will be heading to the French Open as the player to beat in the second grand slam of the year.
Watch the Djokovic vs Nadal final live online at Rome's 2012 Internazionali BNL d’Italia through Sportlemon.TV. Enjoy.