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Djokovic stops defending champion

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

ROME - Novak Djokovic has fought back defending champion and seven-time winner Rafael Nadal to claim the Rome Masters 4-6 6-3 6-3.

Serbia's world number two Djokovic claimed his third title on the red clay of Rome, having won in 2008 and 2011.

Nadal had been looking to stretch his record of seven titles in the Italian capital.

But despite a dominant first-set display on Sunday, the world number one allowed unforced errors to creep into his game as Djokovic launched a valiant fightback to put himself in pole position to win a first title at the forthcoming French Open.

Nadal admitted three tough matches this week had left his fuel tank empty for the final, but the Spaniard said Djokovic had simply been unbeatable on the day.

"He's one of the best in the world, he's playing great," said the Spaniard, who has now lost three matches in the same clay court season for the first time since 2004.

"I played well for moments, I had my chances for moments, but I could have done with a little more energy at times. My legs didn't answer me after a tough week."

Djokovic carved a heart on the clay with his racket to celebrate his title.

"This heart on the court is for you," he told the fans in Italian during the victory celebration.

"It's also a special dedication to my country, which is suffering a lot right now. My heart is with them."

Authorities say 25 people have died in the Balkans because of the worst flooding in a century after three months worth of rain fell on the region in three days this week.


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