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Nadal to renew rivalry vs. Djokovic in Rome final

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 17, 2014 at 4:03 pm •  Published: May 17, 2014
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ROME (AP) — Top-ranked Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Novak Djokovic will renew their rivalry in the Italian Open final on Sunday.

There will be an enticing women's championship too, with top-ranked Serena Williams to face Sara Errani, the tournament's first Italian finalist in nearly 30 years.

Having been stretched to three sets in his opening three matches this week, Nadal finally put in a complete performance with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinals on Saturday.

"Today was a good confirmation that I really played better. ... A lot of positive things," Nadal said. "(Djokovic) is playing great and it's going to be a really tough match."

Earlier, Djokovic took his time before figuring out Milos Raonic's massive serve for a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory in the last key clay-court tuneup before the French Open starts next weekend.

Nadal holds a 22-18 career edge vs. Djokovic but the Serb won their last meeting for the Sony Open title in March in Key Biscayne, Florida.

Nadal already has a record seven titles in Rome, while Djokovic is seeking his third championship at the Foro Italico. They have met in three finals here, with Nadal winning two of them.

Williams overcame a second-set lapse to beat Ana Ivanovic 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 and gain a measure of revenge for a fourth-round loss to the Serb at this year's Australian Open.

Using vocal crowd support to her advantage, Errani fought back from a 4-1 deficit in the second set for a 6-3, 7-5 win over two-time Rome champion Jelena Jankovic.

Williams is aiming for her third Rome title, having won this clay-court tuneup for Roland Garros in 2002 and last year. The American is 6-0 in her career against Errani and lost just one game in their last meeting, in the semifinals of last year's French Open.

"She's just taken her game to a whole new level and she has so much confidence beating two really good top-10 players and two really great clay-court players," Williams said, also referring to Errani's win over second-seeded Li Na in the quarterfinals. "So I have a lot of work to do tomorrow. It's not going to be easy. And she has nothing to lose and she has the crowd behind her. So it's going to be a really tough match for me."

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