Italian Open: Rafael Nadal beats Djokovic to claim year’s first title

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Rome: Rafael Nadal claimed his first title of the year by defeating world number one Novak Djokovic with 6-0 4-6 6-1 score in the Italian Open final in Rome on Sunday.

The Spaniard, after losing in the semifinals of three straight clay-court tournaments, dominated for stretches against his longtime rival Djokovic in a 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 win for a record-extending ninth Italian Open title.

With this win, Nadal clinched his 81st tournament win which takes him to 34-33 ahead of Djokovic in Masters 1,000 Series titles.

On the other hand, Karolina Pliskova outclassed Britain’s Johanna Konta and captured the biggest clay-court trophy of her career in the women’s final.

With this, Pliskova, clinched her 13th career title, in the final major warm-up tournament on clay before Roland Garros starts on May 26.

The 27-year-old Czech fourth-seeded sealed the victory on her third match point in just 85 minutes on the court.

Top seeds Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova pulled out injured during the event, while Roland Garros champion Simona Halep crashed out in her opening match in Italy.

Four-time Rome winner Serena Williams also withdrew before the second round as her return after a two-month layoff was cut short when her knee injury flared up.

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