Rafael Nadal made his debut at the Rome Masters 1000 event in 2005 at 18, standing as one of the favorites and going all the way after that epic win over Guillermo Coria in five hours and 14 minutes! The instant chemistry was born, and Rafa was the dominant figure in the Italian capital for almost ten years, winning seven titles in the first nine appearances and handing the trophy to Novak Djokovic in 2008 and 2011. The last crown in this fantastic streak came in 2013 when Nadal survived stern tests from Ernests Gulbis and David Ferrer, spending over five hours on the court in those encounters before beating Tomas Berdych 6-2, 6-4 in under 80 minutes to preserve the energy. Rafa took down Roger Federer 6-1, 6-3 on May 19 in the title clash, celebrating the seventh Rome crown and one of the most impressive wins over a great rival. The Swiss ousted Potito Starace, Gilles Simon, Jerzy Janowicz and Benoit Paire to advance into his third Rome final, hoping to win the first title at Foro Italico.
Still, he needed something extra to challenge Nadal that day, as the Spaniard scoring his quickest victory over Roger. The Spaniard wrapped up the triumph in 69 minutes, a minute less than in Miami 2004 in their first clash on the Tour! Also, it was the 30th clash between two legends and the 20th victory for Nadal, who served at 74% and lost only 12 points behind the initial shot. With nothing to work on the return except one break he grabbed, Roger’s serve was in danger all the time and he dropped 55% of the points in his games and suffered five breaks from six chances offered to Rafa.
In 2013, Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer in the Rome final in 69 minutes.
The Spaniard barely made any unforced error, leaving Federer to count to 30 and outplaying him in the shortest and mid-range exchanges to race towards the finish line and claim the 24th Masters 1000 title and the second in a row after Madrid. Roger held at 15 in the opening game with a volley winner, but his forehand let him down two games later when he sprayed an error that offered Nadal an early break and momentum after ten minutes.
Rafa confirmed the lead with a hold at love and took complete control with another good return game that pushed him 4-1 in front after a forehand crosscourt winner. Nadal extended the lead with a service winner in game six, rattling off 20 of the last 25 points and closing the opening set with the third straight break in game seven after just 24 minutes. Federer landed 82% of the first serve in, but that gave him nothing, as Nadal returned a staggering 95% of those! The Swiss sprayed too many errors and couldn’t move Nadal from the comfort zone and lethal forehand. Things looked slightly better for Roger at the beginning of the second set, creating a break point in the opening game before losing serve in the second after the Spaniard’s backhand crosscourt winner.
Taking 26 out of 34 baseline rallies so far, Rafa held at love in game three with a service winner to extend the advantage before Roger finally closed the fourth after deuces to reduce the deficit to 1-3. An outstanding backhand down the line gave Nadal another good hold in game five, and he hit an even better one in the next point to break Roger and move a game away from the title. Serving for the crown, Nadal got broken at love in game seven, but there were no mistakes at 5-3. He held at love and moved over the finish line with a service winner to celebrate one of the most one-sided wins over Federer, who couldn’t do anything to stop the Spanish avalanche on that day.