There had never been a 6-0 set in the 53 previous meetings between Rafael Nadal and Djokovic.
But the Spaniard ran away with the opening set in Rome on his way to a 6-0 4-6 6-1 win.
It was Nadal’s first clay-court title of the season and his first trophy on all surfaces in nine months.
And the Spaniard was happy to get his hands on some silverware again after a trophyless start to 2019.
“You were asking for titles. Finally, I have a title,” Nadal said.
“For me, the most important thing is feeling myself playing well and healthy, with the energy that I need.
“If that happens, the experience is that I’m going to fight for titles sooner or later.
“Of course, playing against Novak is always a special thing because it’s part of the history of this sport. It’s always a special feeling.
“Today was for me and the last couple of times have been for him, but I’m happy for the title more than winning against Novak.
“I am especially happy because the level was very high.
“I don’t care about winning 6-0 or 6-4, to be honest. I played a great first set in all aspects.
“No mistakes, playing so aggressive, changing directions. These kind of days happen, but it’s not usual and probably will not happen again.
“The first set is just an important part of the match. It showed that I was able to play at this level.
“That’s important for today, important for tomorrow.”
Novak Djokovic, who had spent more than two hours longer than Nadal on court prior to the final, admitted he felt tired during the match.
“I’m really glad that I managed to get into the third set, considering the first set where I was blown away from the court,” Djokovic said.
“Obviously third set was not much different from the first.
“I was just running out of fuel a little bit today.
“Just kind of missed that half a step, especially on the backhand side. He used it very well.
“He’s been playing some terrific tennis throughout the entire week. He was just too strong today.”
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