Djokovic beats Federer in Rome
Rafael Nadal will play Novak Djokovic in the final of the ATP Rome Masters.ROME - World number one Rafael Nadal will play Novak Djokovic in the final of the ATP Rome Masters after their respective victories against Fernando Gonzalez and Roger Federer on Saturday.
World number three Djokvic is the reigning champion here and needs to retain his title or Britain's Andy Murray will overtake him in the world rankings, while Nadal earned the top ranking in the three previous years.
Serbian Djokovic made the most of a rain break and beat Federer 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.
"It was really important. I mean, if you look at it, obviously everybody will say that the rain helped me, it's a fact," said Djokovic.
"It's a fact that I played much better after the break and that I started being more patient, moving much better, giving him more balls back and making him play more.
"This is what I didn't do at the end of the first and start of the second set.
"He could have broken me again to have a double break and then it would be much tougher for me to come back."
He was trailing by a set and a break when the rain began, but after a little more than an hour break Djokovic’s game improved while Federer's weakened.
The Swiss master didn’t have a single break point before the rain but was broken five times after it as his game gradually worsened.
He later blamed the rain for his defeat.
"Things were going well for me, I was playing him well and serving well when I had to and putting him under pressure so it (the rain) kind of definitely changed the momentum," he said.
"I mean, the rain delay came at a perfect moment for him because he came through a tough service game at 2-0 down.
"Instead of going 3-0, he goes 2-1 and then the rain comes, so he's got something positive to look at.
"Then when he comes back conditions changed, so, sure, it helped him. But then again, who knows.
"He might have come back anyway and beat me in the end. He did well today to use the rain delay in his favor, that's for sure."
Federer broke Djokovic at 4-4 in the first set after the Serbian was startled by a whistle from the crowd when facing break-point on a second serve.
That seemed to disrupt the 21-year-old and the next rally he hit a wild forehand long.
Federer served out the set and then broke in the opening game of the second as Djokovic netted a backhand.
The number two seed led 2-1 when the rain started.
But after the players returned from the break, Djokovic won five games in a row to even the scores at a set all.
However, Federer broke for a 3-1 lead after a several errors by Djokovic.
But Federer then made three unforced errors to give the Serbian a 40-0 lead and a crosscourt forehand winner secured a break back.
After that Federer's game simply crumbled, particularly his backhand. He lost his next service game with a netted backhand and then ruined his final service game with another backhand error into the tramlines.
It was the first time Djokovic beat Federer on clay.
Nadal easily beat Chilean 12th seed Gonzalez and the Spaniard broke his opponent four times on the way to victory.
From the moment he opened up a 4-3 lead after a series of three breaks in a row, Nadal earned his 29th straight win on clay.
Now he is looking forward to facing Djokovic, against whom he has a 7-0 winning record on clay.
"The important thing is to not make many mistakes. He's going to play aggressively, I think, because it's his game. I'm going to try to play aggressively too," said Nadal.
AFP / Barnaby Chesterman / Expatica