Nadal clinches Rome Masters crown

Rome: World No 1 Rafael Nadal won a record fourth Rome Masters claycourt title, beating reigning champion Novak Djokovic 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 in the final on Sunday.

The 22-year-old Spaniard took his winning run on clay to 30 matches in just over a year while Djokovic’s failure to retain his title saw him lose the world No 3 spot to Briton Andy Murray, who becomes the highest ever ranked British man since the introduction of computerised rankings in 1973.

Although the match ended in two sets it was a high quality and close run affair until the very end when Serbian Djokovic wilted and Nadal, who has only dropped one set on clay this year, ran away with it. It was the top seed’s 15th Masters Series title and only Andre Agassi, with 17, has won more. Djokovic played brilliantly at times but the main difference was unforced errors where he made 40 to just 22 from Nadal.

The 21-year-old third seed actually hit 23 winners to just 19 by Nadal but too often he undid his own good work by following up one good point with a poor one. He dropped serve in the opening game of the match, having led 40-15, after hitting a forehand wide, one of far too many forehand errors.

Djokovic saved a set point at 5-3 on his own serve and then set up a break point in the next game. Nadal hit a service winner to save the break but handed his opponent a break. But Djokovic then played a horrible service game to gift a break straight back.

Nadal set up a set point on his own serve but Djokovic won two points at the net to earn a break point. And when Nadal shanked a forehand off the frame, it was into a tie-break. Djokovic kept fighting until he was trailing 2-3 in the second and crucially double-faulted on break point. That gave Nadal a 4-2 lead, after which his 21-year-old opponent crumbled to defeat in 2hr 3min.

Porsche GP STUTTGART: Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Russian compatriot and world No 1 Dinara Safina 6-4, 6-3 on Sunday to win Porsche Grand Prix tournament to bring an end to her losing streak in finals.

The fifth-seed needed just one hour and 19 minutes to beat the highest-ranked player in the world in straight sets to claim the winner’s prize of a new Porsche sports car. Kuznetsova finally broke her losing streak here having lost the last six finals she had reached on the WTA tour.

The 23-year-old needed only 43 minutes to take the first set and with Safina consistently over-hitting the ball, Kuznetsova had her first match point at 5-2 on her opponent’s serve. Safina defended the point, but it was not long before Kuznetsova won out. After serving to her second match point claimed the title, her first since winning at New Haven in 2007.