Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 to win a ninth Italian Open title and a record 34rd Masters crown on Sunday.
World number one Djokovic, winner at the Madrid Open last week, produced an error-strewn performance in his 54th meeting with second-ranked Nadal.
Nadal overtakes Djokovic at the top of the list for Masters wins — the pair were level at 33 each before Sunday’s final — in a timely boost ahead of his assault on a 12th French Open crown in a week’s time.
The Spaniard, who had shared the record of 33 Masters titles with the Serbian world number one, warmed up for the defence of his French Open crown by securing his ninth Rome title.
After losing in the semifinals of three straight clay-court tournaments, Nadal dominated for stretches against his longtime rival Djokovic in a 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 win Sunday for a record-extending ninth Italian Open title.
It marked the first time in an Open Era-record 54 meetings, and in their 142nd set against each other, that Nadal won a set against Djokovic without conceding a game – otherwise known as a bagel.
The timing for Nadal’s return to form could not have been more opportune, as he will seek a record-extending 12th title at the French Open starting next weekend.
“Winning a title is important but for me, the most important thing is [to] feel myself competitive, feel myself healthy,” Nadal said.
“Then with the feeling that I am improving. I know if I’m able to reach my level you can win, you can lose, but normally I’m going to have my chances, especially on this surface.”
Top-ranked Djokovic, meanwhile, appeared exhausted after spending more than five and a half hours on court against Juan Martin del Potro and Diego Schwartzman the previous two days.
Djokovic was also coming off the Madrid Open title last week.
“I don’t want to talk about fatigue or things like that,” Djokovic said. “Rafa was simply too strong today.”