2021 Italian Open Final – Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal Preview & Prediction

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THE FACTS

Where is Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal taking place? Foro Italico, Rome, Italy

When is Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal on and what time does it start? Sunday 16th May, 2021 – Not before 16:00 (UK)

What surface is Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal being played on? Clay (outdoor)

Where can I get tickets for Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal? Click here for the latest ticket information

What channel is Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal on? This match will not be televised live in the UK

Where can I stream Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal in the UK? Amazon Prime subscribers can stream the match live on Prime Video. Tennis TV subscribers can also stream the match live

THE LOWDOWN

NOVAK DJOKOVIC

  • World number one Novak Djokovic should be feeling it on Sunday after playing for more than five hours on Saturday, completing an incredible quarter-final comeback over Stefanos Tsitsipas then returning to court to fight over three sets with Lorenzo Sonego.
  • Defending Italian Open champion Djokovic has won this tournament on five previous occasions, beating Nadal for two of those titles but losing to the Spaniard in three finals.

RAFAEL NADAL

  • 34-year-old Rafael Nadal was able to enjoy a more routine victory over Reilly Opelka in the semi-finals of the Italian Open after tough back-to-back matches against Denis Shapovalov and Alexander Zverev.
  • The world number three has been the Italian Open champion a record nine times, losing just two finals, unsurprisingly, to Novak Djokovic.

THE PREDICTION

The returning fans in Rome will be treated to an almost certain classic here between world number one Novak Djokovic and world number three Rafael Nadal, for an unbelievable 57th career meeting. It will be the 29th final contested between them, with 33-year-old Djokovic leading their head-to-head record in finals 16-12 but Nadal leading their record in finals contested on clay 8-4. Specifically at the Italian Open, Nadal is responsible for five of Novak Djokovic’s nine defeats here whilst Djokovic amounts for three of Nadal’s total of seven losses.

All that comes into some consideration but the pair have faced more adversity this week than they are used to, especially Djokovic who was forced to play, essentially, two whole matches on Saturday due to rain washing out Friday. Nadal’s exertions came earlier in the week, with two intense matches against Denis Shapovalov and Alexander Zverev, and a straightforward-enough semi-final against Reilly Opelka came at exactly the right time for the Spaniard. Nadal will also garner most of the support here as the record title-holder, whilst it is a simple fact of the sport that Djokovic struggles to inspire the same amount of crowd adoration than the other members of the ‘Big Three’. This can often needle the Serb into a gritty determination but the longer this match goes on the more he should feel Saturday’s two matches creeping into his legs. It is unfortunate for Djokovic that this match is not being played on a level playing field, though also not Nadal’s fault. However, the Spaniard holds all of the advantages on Sunday and he can extend his record to 10 titles here with a fifth-straight win on clay over old foe Novak Djokovic.

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