Battling Djokovic wins Italian Open

Novak Djokovic shocks clay-court expert Rafael Nadal while Serena Williams eases past home favourite Sara Errani.

    World number two Djokovic has now won four straight matches against Nadal [Getty Images]
    World number two Djokovic has now won four straight matches against Nadal [Getty Images]

    Novak Djokovic extended his recent dominance over Rafael Nadal by rallying for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory to win the Italian Open for the third time.

    Having also been beaten in Monte Carlo and Barcelona recently, it marked the first time in a decade that the top-ranked Nadal has lost more than two matches on clay in the same year.

    World number two Djokovic was broken twice in the first set as Nadal moved towards an eighth Rome title but he came roaring back to dominate the defending champion after that.

    The second-ranked Djokovic has now won four straight matches against Nadal - the previous three in straight sets - and takes the psychological edge into the French Open, which starts next weekend.

    Djokovic will arrive at Roland Garros on a high after collecting the 44th title of his career to draw level with former French Open champion Thomas Muster. 

    Serena's Italian job

    Serena Williams kept the crowd from being a factor in a 6-3, 6-0 victory over 10th-seeded Sara Errani to win the Italian Open for the third time.

    Organisers attempted to whip up patriotic fervor by having the Italian anthem sung before the players walked out onto the court, to try and encourage Errani in an atmosphere that more resembled a Davis Cup or Fed Cup setting.

    But Williams jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first set and while Errani had a few chances to get back into the set, Williams overpowered the Italian with her serve - she had seven aces to Errani's none - and overall attacking game.

    Errani left the court for an injury timeout while trailing 5-3 in the opening set and came back with her thigh bandaged.

    Williams' other Rome titles came in 2002 and last year - and she went on to win the French Open on both occasions.

    Later, seven-time champion Rafael Nadal was facing Novak Djokovic in the men's final of the last clay-court tuneup for Roland Garros, which starts next weekend.



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