ROME (AP) — Rafael Nadal was challenged in the first set by Novak Djokovic before pulling away for a 7-6 (4), 6-3 win to reach the Italian Open final on Saturday.
In their 51st meeting but first in more than a year, Nadal’s court coverage eventually proved too much to handle for Djokovic, who is still regaining his form from a persistent right elbow injury.
“That was a tough battle, a good level of tennis, a combination of good tactics and great shots from both of us,” Nadal said.
In the women’s tournament, Elina Svitolina returned to the final with a comfortable 6-4, 6-3 win over Anna Kontaveit.
The first set alone of Nadal-Djokovic made the latest installment of the Open era’s most prolific rivalry worth watching….