Last Updated on May 10, 2022
The Italian open is an annual clay court tennis tournament that holds in Rome, Italy. The event hasn’t always held in Rome; the inaugural edition of the Italian open was held at the tennis club in Milan. This inaugural 1930 edition was initiated by a certain Count Alberto Bonacossa and was initially called the Italian tennis championship. The Italian open only became open to professional players in 1969 and has enjoyed a rich and varied history. Following the inaugural event, the tournament was held in Milan for four years until 1935 when it was moved to the Foro Italico, Rome. The championship didn’t hold between 1936 and 1949, the competition resumed in 1950. The men’s event is an ATP Tour Masters 1000 and the women’s event a WTA 1000 event.
Rafael Nadal at Italian Open
Rafael Nadal has won the Italian open men’s singles title an impressive ten times during the course of his illustrious career. His ten Italian open success ranks him first in number of Italian opens won. Rafael Nadal is the undisputable king of the clay courts in tennis tournaments, having won thirteen of his twenty-one career grand slams at the clay courts of Roland-Garros, the French Open. Rafael Nadal, more than being just a clay court specialist, is one of the greatest players to ever grace the courts enjoying a long time rivalry with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Rafael Nadal has a total of ten (10) Italian open title. He holds the record for the most Men’s singles titles in this competition.
Rafael Nadal’s first victory at the Italian open came in 2005 at the age of only eighteen. It was won at the 62nd edition of the Italian open. He was a teenager but was by no means a surprise, he was the fifth seed at the tournament and it was his second masters title of the year. He achieved a (4-6,6-4,7-5) semi-final victory over compatriot final David Ferrer to proceed to the final against Argentine Guillermo Coria who was aged 23 and ranked 11 in the world. Coria and the teenage Nadal were no strangers to each other. The pair had in fact faced each other three weeks’ prior in the final match of the Monte-Carlo. Nadal had won (6-3,6-1,0-6,7-6).
This rematch at the Foro Italico proved to be sizzling. The athletes had both come with a game plan and for hours, they mesmerized the Italian crowd with prolonged rallies and impressive athleticism. Nadal took the first set 6-4, Coria took the second set 6-3, Nadal won the next set 6-3, Coria rallied to take the fourth set 6-4, the fifth set went to a tie break, which Nadal led 5-1, but he let his advantage slip with his opponent levelling scores to 6-6, but after a grueling five hours, Nadal edged the tie-break 8-6, exhausted, he collapsed to the floor. He was the new Italian Open champion.
Video: Guillermo Coria vs Rafael Nadal | Rome 2005
A convincing (6-2,6-2) semi-final win over Frenchman, Gael Monfils booked Nadal his place in the 2006 Italian open final against world number one, Roger Federer who was looking to make up for recent losses to Nadal in Dubai and Monte Carlo. It was a battle of titans in what has been described as one of their most memorable matches. What took place was a five set grueling final which lasted over five hours with Nadal edging Federer in a winner take all tie break in the fifth set to win the match (6-7(0-7),7-6(7-5),6-4,2-6,7-6(7-5)). This was Federer’s fifth defeat in six attempts against Nadal.
Video: Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal | Rome 2006
Nadal asserted his dominance as the king of clay in the 2007 Italian open sweeping past most of his opponents in straight sets. He made short work of 5th seed Novak Djokovic in the quarter finals but needed three sets to beat 4th seed Nikolay Davydenko in the semis with two of those sets going into a tie-break. He stormed to an impressive 6-2,6-2 victory over 6th seed Fernando Gonzalez in the final to secure his 3rd Italian open title.
Video: Rafael Nadal vs Fernando González | Rome 2007
In the 2008 edition of the Italian Open, compatriot Juan Ferrero shocked Nadal in the second round of the tournament with a (6-7,6-2,6-4) victory.
The 2009 Italian open turned out to be a scintillating affair for Nadal. The 1st seed stormed to the final with straight set wins. In the final, he overcame defending champion Novak Djokovic in straight sets win to secure his fourth Italian open title extending the record he already held for most Italian open men’s title.
Rafael Nadal won a record-extending fifth Italian Open title at the 2010 edition. He dropped only one set on his path to victory throughout the tournament. This dropped set came in a semi-final victory over Latvian Ernst Gulbis. He squared up with his 13th seeded compatriot David Ferrer in the final clinching a (7-5,6-2) victory.
Serbian Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal 6-4,6-4 in the final of the 2011 Italian Open in Rome.
Nadal stormed to the 2012 Italian open final game without dropping a set. He overcame compatriot David Ferrer in the semifinals setting a final meet with Djokovic in a repeat of the 2011 final. Djokovic had overcome Roger Federer in his semifinal match. He retook the title from Djokovic in straight sets.
Having just returned from a seven-month injury layoff in February 2013, Rafael Nadal graced the 2013 Italian open in May. He needed three sets each to overcome Ernst Gulbis and David Ferrer in the third round and the quarterfinal respectively. He needed only two sets against Czech Tomas Berdych to set up a showdown in the final with Roger Federer. Nadal won the final in Rome in straight sets (6-1,6-3). It was his 7th title at this prestigious tournament.
In the 2014 edition of the Italian Open, Novak Djokovic defeated two time defending champion Rafael Nadal in the final, winning in three sets, 6-4,3-6,3-6.
Swiss Stan Wawrinka overcame Rafael Nadal in (7-6(9-7), 6-2) straight sets victory in the quarter-final of the 2015 Italian Open. The first set was decided by a tie break which Wawrinka edged, Nadal then uncharacteristically ran out of steam in the second set.
Top seed Novak Djokovic overcame rival Rafael Nadal in 7-5,7-6 straight sets in the quarter finals of the 2016 Italian open. Djokovic would lose the final in straight sets to Brit Andy Murray.
Austrian Dominic Thiem handed Nadal a 6-4,6-3 defeat in the quarter finals of the 2017 Italian Open. Nadal had emerged the victor at their last two encounters with a most recent match only less than a week before.
The 2018 Italian open semifinals saw Rafael Nadal face old rival Novak Djokovic with top seed Nadal sweeping past Djokovic in (7-6,6-3) straight sets victory. Nadal faced defending champion Alexander Zverev in the final. Nadal took the first set 6-1, Zverev rallied to also take the second set 6-1 but Nadal held his nerve in the deciding set to secure a (6-1,1-6,6-3) victory clinching his record extending 8th Italian open title.
Video: Alexander Zverev vs Rafael Nadal | Rome 2018
Rafael Nadal came into the Italian open of 2019 having not won a title in 2019, suffering semifinal defeats in the last four tournaments he had competed in. He powered through to the final where he faced old nemesis Novak Djokovic in a mouthwatering tie. He handed Djokovic a bagel for the first set, Djokovic finally won a game in the second set and applied some pressure to take the second set 6-4. Nadal responded aggressively winning the deciding set 6-1 to secure a (6-0,4-6,6-1) victory and clinch his 9th title in Rome.
Video: Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal | Rome 2019
Rafael Nadal was stunned in the 2020 quarter finals of the Rome masters by Diego Schwartzman in a 6-2,7-5 straight sets defeat. Prior to this defeat Nadal held a 9-0 head to head record against Schwartzman. Schwartzman would go on to lose to Novak Djokovic in the final
At the 2021 Italian open, Nadal encountered a nervous third round match against Denis Shapovalov having to come from a set down to win the second set, the deciding set was decided by a tie break with Nadal eventually running out (6-3,4-6,7-6(3-7)) winner. The final of the 2021 Italian open saw Rafael Nadal prevail against Defending champion Novak Djokovic in three sets (7-5, 1-6,6-3) winning his record tenth Italian open men’s singles title.
Video: Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal | Rome 2021
Rafael Nadal has always loved the Italian Open, the result of this affection being the record Ten Rome Masters titles he holds.