World No 1 Novak Djokovic saved two match points against former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro to advance to the semi-finals of the Italian Open in a three-set Roman thriller on Friday as defending champion Rafael Nadal swept through without dropping a set.
Rafael Nadal proved on Sunday that he would still be the man to beat when the French Open begins later this month.
Midway through the second set, Nadal chased down a lob with an over-the-shoulder shot and Djokovic's ensuing overhead landed in the net to conclude a long point.
Djokovic took the second by breaking Nadal's serve for the first time while leading 5-4, but the second seed responded in style by storming through the decisive set.
Tsitsipas, meanwhile, who lost the Madrid final to Djokovic, was at a loss to explain his performance as he fell to his fourth defeat in five matches against Nadal.
"You were asking for titles". Nadal has won 11 of his last 13 final appearances overall and is 57-8 in final appearances on clay.
Djokovic - victor at the Madrid Open last week - gave an error-strewn display in his 54th meeting with second-ranked Nadal, having spent six hours on court in his previous two matches.
However, the way he demolished the world's top-ranked player in the opening and third sets on Sunday was indeed mind-boggling.
Djokovic leads their head-to-head 28-25; Nadal has a 16-7 advantage of clay, although the players have split their last 14 matches on that surface.
The 32-year-old had been stunned by Stefanos Tsitsipas, seeded eighth and 12 years his junior, in the semi-finals at the Madrid Open last weekend.
I expect the Nadal -2.5 game handicap market to settle in the high [1.80] s on the Exchange, and either this, or simply the [1.59] about Nadal to be celebrating tonight look to be the value spots for today's final. "I was a little bit nervous today, but it was the final in Rome, so that's to be expected". Just kind of missed that half a step, especially on the backhand side.
"Nobody really gave me chance for this tournament - even me", Pliskova said.
The Serb eventually clinched the second set 6-4 courtesy of some unforced errors from Nadal and ensure a third set, and it seemed as though a looming crisis had been averted. He's been playing some terrific tennis throughout the entire week.
"If that happens, the experience is that I am going to fight for titles sooner or later".
In the women's final, Karolina Pliskova captured the biggest clay-court trophy of her career by beating Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-4.
"Before the tournament, I was not super confident", said Pliskova, a 2017 French Open semi-finalist. I know she loved this tournament.