ATP

Nadal knows 'how to handle the pressure' after claiming 10th Internazionali d'Italia title

By Sports Desk May 16, 2021

Rafael Nadal believes his ability to handle pressure was key to a record-extending 10th Internazionali d'Italia win on Sunday.

Nadal overcame Novak Djokovic 7-5 1-6 6-3 to seal his first Masters 1000 triumph of the year, while improving to 4-2 in the finals he has played against the Serbian at the Foro Italico venue in Rome.

Victory also gave Nadal a 36th Masters 1000 crown, moving him level with Djokovic's all-time record since the series was established in 1990.

The 34-year-old king of clay-court tennis was delighted to get his hands on the trophy for a 10th time and said there has been no let-up in his motivation to succeed.

"It's amazing to have the trophy with me again, one more time here in Rome," Nadal said.

"I really wanted this 10th here in Rome. After achieving 10 at Roland Garros, 10 in Monte Carlo, 10 in Barcelona, I really wanted this one. It's a super important tournament for me.

"I went through a lot of things during the week. Some positive, some great moments, some lucky moments, suffering moments. At the end I think I played a very solid week of tennis. It's the right moment to win an important title."

Nadal added, quoted on the ATP website: "I don't put extra pressure on myself at all. I want to win every day and every tournament that I play. But the passion and the motivation to try is always the same. I know how to handle the pressure."

Nadal plans to rest for a few days before making minor tweaks to his game ahead of a tilt at a record-breaking 21st grand slam title at the French Open, which starts on May 30.

"I'll take a couple of days off and then start working," Nadal added. "I think I can work on a couple of things that I can do a little bit better. I think I have been improving this week, but I need to keep going with those improvements, because when you improve, you're able to do it every day for a longer time.

"I just need to keep going. I know what I need to work on over the next couple of weeks, and I'm going to do it. Work, relax mentally, and work the right way."

Djokovic spent almost five hours on court on Saturday in his rain-delayed quarter-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas and subsequent semi-final triumph over Lorenzo Sonego.

However, he insisted fatigue was not behind his defeat.

"Not at all, I did not feel any fatigue," Djokovic said. "He managed to break my serve and played better, that's it.

"Until the last shot it was quite close. I had my shot to win it, but it wasn't meant to be. I didn't feel fatigue. Actually, I was very happy with the way I felt on the court. I could have gone for another few hours.

"I could have easily gone out of this tournament in the quarters. I'm very pleased with my fighting spirit. The level of tennis was higher and higher, actually.

"Yesterday I played great. Today I thought I also played at a high level. Unfortunately the decisive moments in the first and third sets just went his way. It was a bit unfortunate."

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