In a week which has seen Novak Djokovic & Rafael Nadal pull off great escape acts at the last second, now the top two will battle for the title in Rome

Throughout the clay court season there have been murmurs that the ‘Next Gen’ are stepping up their breakthrough, Djokovic and Nadal had far from ideal starts to the clay court season.

Djokovic lost to Evans in Monte-Carlo, lost to Karatsev winning just 5 of 28 break points on offer, and skipping Madrid before showing his frustration in Rome against Taylor Fritz.

Nadal lost a bizarre match in Monte-Carlo to Rublev, he followed it up with a title win in Barcelona but defeat to Zverev in Madrid ended his run at home.

Tsitsipas won in Monte-Carlo and Zverev in Madrid, Berrettini and Rublev began to find form on the clay as questions were still being asked of Nadal and Djokovic.

This last week further questions continued to be asked of Nadal and Djokovic but the top two in men’s tennis pulled off two monumental Houdini acts on Court Centrale at the Foro Italico.

Rafael Nadal 3-6 6-4 7-6 Denis Shapovalov

Denis has beaten Rafa before, almost four years ago in Montreal but has struggled for form but for a set and a half he was running the show.

The 22 year old led:

6-3 3-0 40-30 – a point away from a double break of serve in the second set, would that point have pretty much sealed the match if Denis had won it?

6-3 3-1 40-0 – a big hold of serve on the horizon but wasted…

6-3 4-6 3-1 – up a break a serve once more and looking to consolidate the break of serve, opportunity wasted.

6-3 4-6 6-5 40-30 – match point for Denis Shapovalov, gone!

6-3 4-6 6-5 Ad – match point No.2 for Denis Shapovalov, gone!

6-3 4-6 6-6 3-6 – Nadal seals a big comeback win.

Novak Djokovic 4-6 7-5 7-5 Stefanos Tsitsipas

A match which had a place in the final four at stake was heavily disrupted by rain on a couple of occasions before both came to finish off a memorable battle on Saturday morning.

6-4 4-2 – Tsitsipas leading up a break of serve, two games from the win.

6-4 4-4 40-15 – Tsitsipas with two break points to take a 5-4 lead in the second set but they were squandered…

6-4 5-7 3-1 40-30 – Tsitsipas up a break of serve but had another break point to put himself a double break up in the final set but that soon went away too.

6-4 5-7 5-4 15-0 – Serving for the match, three more points for the win but it got away from him.

6-4 5-7 5-6 – behind in the match for the first time, serving to stay in the match but found himself 0-40 down, one match point was saved but Djokovic sealed a remarkable comeback to win 4-6 7-5 7-5.

Another match which completely turned on it’s head, Denis and Stefanos will look back and know their respective matches should have been closed out but never rule out these guys.

Imagine the stories if both Djokovic and Nadal had lost these matches, the way both have gone about this week ahead of Roland Garros is perfect and has just sent out another message to those hoping to catch them, it’s going to take something quite special over 3 sets, let alone 5!

Nadal survived his round three match, Djokovic his quarter final. Both came through their remaining matches to make their first Masters 1000 final of the season but who will win it?

No one has won more Masters 1000 titles than Novak Djokovic (36), Nadal has 35…

Either Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic have been in every Rome final since 2005. Rafael Nadal is aiming to win his 10th Rome title in his 13th final.

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