Nadal, Djokovic advance to Italian Open final
Rome, Italy (SportsNetwork.com) - The two best players in the world will meet in yet another final.
Top-seeded Rafael Nadal and No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic, ranked No. 1 and 2 in the world, respectively, were both semifinal winners on Saturday to advance to the championship match of the Italian Open.
Nadal was a 6-2, 6-2 winner over 23-year-old Grigor Dimitrov, improving to 5-0 lifetime against the Bulgarian in the process. This was the first two-set match between the two, as Dimitrov forced a third in each of the previous four meetings.
The 27-year-old Spaniard continued his dominance on clay, winning his 51st consecutive semifinal on his favorite surface. Nadal is looking for his eighth title in Rome in the last 10 years and third in a row.
The result of this one was never in doubt, as Nadal won a pair of break points in each set and held serve throughout in easily dismantling the young Dimitrov.
Earlier, Djokovic had to overcome a dropped first set to beat the hard-serving Milos Raonic 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 on the red clay at Foro Italico to reach his fifth Italian Open final.
Djokovic will be seeking his third title at this ATP Masters 1000 event. He won in 2008 and 2011 and was the runner-up in 2009 and 2012.
The eighth-seeded Raonic trailed 3-0 in the opening set tiebreak, but won six straight points and secured it when Djokovic fired a return long.
Raonic missed three chances to break early in the second set, and a long backhand from the Canadian gave Djokovic the first break of the match and a 3-1 edge.
Djokovic, however, was broken in the next game and Raonic held to level the set at 3-3.
The second set remained on serve until the tiebreak, which Djokovic clinched on a Raonic backhand error.
Raonic saved one match point with the last of his 17 aces, but he netted a forehand to be broken a third time.
Nadal and Djokovic will be meeting for the 40th time, with the Spaniard holding a slim 22-18 lifetime advantage. Djokovic has taken the most recent three matchups, however, all coming in tournament finales on hard courts.
Nadal has taken 13-of-16 matchups on clay.
05/17 16:03:20 ET