ATP Tennis 360

May 3, 2010 4:20 PM

The Emperor Rafa conquered Rome

Rafa Nadal is the modern Bjorn Borg. "El buen chico de Mallorca" (the good guy from Mallorca) has invented and perfected a new way of playing, has brought tennis to a new era. The more, "Nadal-phenomenal" has no visible intention to stop playing at 26 years old, as the Swede did, substantially after losing a dramatic Us Open final in 1981, although his last match was at the 1983 Montecarlo Masters.

Yesterday, kissing the rain or not, Nadal has lifted up his 17 Masters 1000, equalling the record hold by Andre Agassi who, however, completed his streak at 34 y.o., in Cincinnati, defeating Lleyton Hewitt 6-3 3-6 6-2.

Nadal has now a Masters 1000 cup more than Roger Federer, who on his own can answer boasting his 16 Slams. Practically Rafa has conquered more than a half of the 33 titles obtained by Spanish players in these kind of events. It's not an hyperbole when Alex Corretja, actually working with Andy Murray, in a Mourinho's style declaration, said "In Spain there's God, and after God Nadal".

The first all-Spanish final in the tournament was tight just for the first part of the match, just until the rain forced the organizers to delay the game. At that point the score was 4 all 40-15 Ferrer. In the previous game the players gave life to the most heartbreaking rally of the final, closed by Nadal with a smash after a backhand return volley from the Valencian once world's number four.

Another rain delay prolonged a match, lasted effectively an hour and 44 minutes, over more than four hours, but Nadal never lost his game-plan of hammering on Ferrer's backhand while his opponent recurred to stubborn variety and pace from both sides.

Rafa, who in Montecarlo hadn't wasted a set, and in the final match had conceded merely one game to Fernando Verdasco, in Rome he lost his serve just once, against the main character of this edition, Ernests Gulbis (to whom Atp Tennis 360 will dedicate a profile tomorrow). "Next year I hope to have learned better Italian" said Nadal after his success. It's the best sign that now finding something to improve for him on the clay is beginning harder and harder.

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