Skip to main content

Djokovic stuns Nadal in Rome

updated 3:04 PM EDT, Sun May 18, 2014
Novak Djokovic displays his Rome Masters trophy after coming back to beat Rafael Nadal.
Novak Djokovic displays his Rome Masters trophy after coming back to beat Rafael Nadal.
  • Novak Djokovic storms back from a set down to win Rome Masters
  • Beat reigning champion Nadal in three sets
  • Djokovic had dedicated previous victories to victims of flooding back home
  • Traditionally seen as a warm up for next week's French Open

(CNN) -- An emotional Novak Djokovic came back from a set down to beat Rafael Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the final of the Rome Masters.

Nadal had won the first set 6-4 but Djokovic, who has dedicated his victories from previous rounds to the victims of floods that have deluged both Bosnia and his homeland Serbia, fought back to clinch a memorable victory.

The Rome Masters has been something of a victory procession for Nadal, the defending champion who has won the title seven times.

It is a total catastrophe of biblical proportions
Novak Djokovic

And it looked like he would make that eight after a steady first set put the Spaniard in control. Djokovic, however, was having none of it. After breaking Nadal's serve early in the second set Djokovic powered on to win the next two sets and his 19th career Masters title.

"He's one of the best in the world, he's playing great," Nadal said of Djokovic after the defeat.

"I played well for moments, I had my chances for moments, but I could have done with a little more energy at times. My legs didn't answer me after a tough week."

"I was able to find positive things during the tournament but I played three very tough matches this week and it was very hard mentally, as well as physically. I was a little bit tired."

It is the first time in a decade that Nadal has lost three matches in a season on clay.

Djokovic had endured something of a torrid time in Rome, struggling to defeat the young, big-hitting Canadian Milos Raonic in a three hour, three set epic in the semi-finals.

See devastation from severe flooding
Thousands evacuated due to flooding
Bosnian journalist: Citizens are fed up

Again Djokovic lost the first set, and again he powered back. After the match, Serbia's most famous sportsman described how he had been keeping abreast of events back home, sent a message of support and even criticized Western media outlets for not covering the floods adequately.

"There have not been floods like this in the existence of our people," he said after that match, as reported by The Guardian.

"It is a total catastrophe of biblical proportions. I don't really know how to describe it. Half the country is in danger of not having any electricity, there is total immobilization, evacuations -- and we're talking about whole cities, not small villages."

"I see that on CNN, the BBC and other big networks there is a lot about the miners in Turkey, and so forth. This is another disaster, but there is no broadcast from Serbia and Bosnia, nothing about the biggest floods that we have ever seen, that maybe Europe has ever seen. This is incredible."

Now attention turns to the French Open, which begins next week. Nadal is the reigning champion and has won eight titles in the past nine years.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:52 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
As a player he was as fiery as his hair -- and as Novak Djokovic's coach, Boris Becker says he has to battle to keep his emotions in check.
updated 7:02 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Tennis great Boris Becker says he was stunned by the level of criticism he received after being appointed as Novak Djokovic's coach.
updated 7:01 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
"I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
When Agnieszka Radwanska refused to look her opponent in the eye after losing at Wimbledon, it raised more than eyebrows.
updated 9:14 PM EDT, Sun June 22, 2014
It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
Rafael Nadal is still the "King of Clay" -- but his crown has slipped a bit, says CNN's Will Edmonds.
updated 3:46 AM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
He's regularly voted France's favorite famous person, but many of the nation's youth have "no idea" about his glorious sporting past
updated 7:59 PM EDT, Mon May 5, 2014
British tennis player Elena Baltacha won 11 ITF Pro Circuit titles during her 16-year playing career.
The Ukrainian-born, British tennis star loses fight against liver cancer, just a few weeks after revealing that she was battling the disease.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Tue April 29, 2014
Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.
updated 8:38 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Suisse's Belinda Bencic returns the ball to France's Alize Cornet during the second match of the Fed Cup first round tennis tie France vs Switzerland on February 8, 2014 at the Pierre de Coubertin stadium in Paris. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
It's no easy matter becoming a world class tennis player. It's even harder when everyone (really -- everyone) is calling you the "new Martina Hingis."
updated 10:20 AM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
At the 2009 Australian Open, French men's tennis was the talk of the town.
updated 2:00 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - APRIL 14: Rafael Nadal of Spain sails a boat during day two of the ATP Monte Carlo Rolex Masters Tennis at Monte-Carlo Sporting Club on April 14, 2014 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal may be most at home on a clay tennis court, but he has always found comfort on the sea.