Rafael Nadal won the Italian Open for the eighth time on Sunday when he defeated defending champion Alexander Zverev 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 after a stunning comeback in the decider.
German young gun Zverev raced to a 3-1 up in the decider before two rain stoppages halted his momentum, allowing the top-seeded Spaniard to win five straight games to secure a 32nd Masters title.
Zverev, 21, came to the court riding a 13-match win streak which included last weekend’s trophy in Madrid where he blitzed Nadal’s conqueror Dominic Thiem in the final.
And he looked to be on course for his first win over the 14-time major winner in five games, but a further half an hour off court during the second interruption gave Nadal the impetus to reel off four straight games and wrap up the win on his second match point.
“The rain break was so important, I didn’t think it would help me but it did. I was able to come back out with clear ideas, I’m very happy,” said Nadal.
“To win Rome eight times is amazing, it’s hard to describe. To have the chance to win here again is so great.
“As for Roland Garros, I’m going to enjoy this victory and think about Paris in a few days.”
The hard-fought victory – after disappointment in Madrid a fortnight ago – also ensures a return to the no 1 spot for the Spanish Matador.
The 31-year-old win now be the runaway favourite when Roland Garros begins in a week where he’ll be bidding for an eye-popping 11th French Open title.