The Spaniard reigns in Rome, lifting his first ATP Masters 1000 trophy of the season, en route to Roland Garros.
The King of Clay prevailed over the world No. 1 with a 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 victory in two hours and 49 minutes.
In an exceptional match, both players kept nothing under their sleeves; on the way to their ninth meeting on Roman soil, they fought epic battles on the clay courts.
And at their ultimate encounter, two of the finest tennis players of all time displayed high-class tennis in the presence of a limited number of passionate fans.
Now, they have combined 15 Rome titles, each having reached their 36th career Masters 1000 victory.
The clash of titans began with Nadal taking the first set 7-5 in one hour and 15 minutes.
The Campo Centrale (Center Court) saw the Serbian player producing an early break over his opponent, albeit Nadal reacted quickly, attacking the top seed to break back his serve.
At 3-3, the five-time Italian Open champion had won 20 points to Nadal’s 19, extending his lead to 4-3, saving one out of the two break points he faced, while the second seed saved two of three opportunities.
At 6-5, the world No. 3 broke his rival serve to grab the lead for the first time in the set.
Powering into his 10th Italian Open title, Nadal edged Djokovic converting a set point to seal the first set 7-5.
Second and third rounds on fire
The Belgrade native came back from a set down and leveled with the 34-year-old, storming to secure the second set 6-1, forcing a decider.
Then, the 20-time Grand Slam champion regrouped to win the first game of the third set, taking the lead at 2-1.
At this stage, and according to the statistics, Djokovic had won 51% of the points to Nadal’s 49%.
The nine-time Australian Open champion leveled the set 2-2, but as the match unfolded, it resulted in an inflection point to the final result.
From there on, Nadal built on a gap of 4-2 over Djokovic, earning 12 of the last 13 points played, the lead extended to 5-2, inching closer to the crown.
An effort from the 33-year-old narrowed the gap to 5-3, though it was not enough to stop Nadal from emerging victorious, sealing the set 6-3.
Overall, the 2021 Internazionali BNL d’Italia champion hit 37 winners and struck 22 unforced errors to Djokovic’s 28 and 36, respectively.