Rafael Nadal warns Novak Djokovic ahead of Italian Open final – ‘I’m back’


Rafael Nadal beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 to reach his 50th Masters 1000 final but the Spaniard insists it has been a gradual process to rediscover his best form.

The 32-year-old revealed it has been a day-by-day process to build his confidence and rediscover his top form.

“Every practice and every match. [There’s] not a match that is very important,” Nadal said.

“It’s about every day looking for the things that I need with hope and with passion and with the right attitude.

“That’s daily work more than a match in particular.”

Nadal feels the turning point for him came after his defeat to Dominic Thiem in Barcelona and after that he felt he was back playing at the level he needed to be at.

“I said in Madrid I was playing better, then I played a bad match in the semi-finals,” Nadal said.

“After my loss against Thiem in semi-finals of Barcelona, I think my personal feeling improved and my energy came back a little bit.

“After that I had the feeling that I was able to be back, to play at the level that I need to play.”

Nadal will be playing in his 11th final in Rome, of which he has won eight, when he takes on Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

The Serbian, who is a four-time Rome champion, will be taking on Nadal for the 54th time.

Djokovic insisted Nadal is his “greatest rival”, with both players sitting on 33 Masters titles.

“He keeps on showing to the world why he’s one of the biggest legends of tennis history,” Djokovic said of Nadal.

“I have the greatest respect for him. He’s my greatest rival of all time, for sure.

“Every time we get to play each other, it’s a thrill. It’s the ultimate challenge.”

As for Nadal, he is more focused on maintaining his playing level than the accomplishment of reaching the final.

“To be in the final is nothing unbelievably good,” he said.

“It’s just a process that I have to go through.

“The main thing is recovering my level.

“More than being in the final for me, that’s my feeling, the thing that I am happy with, that I am playing better.”


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