Tennis: Nadal regains winning touch, eyes Paris

Rafael Nadal is hoping to finesse his sixth trophy at the Rome Masters into a lucky seventh at the French Open as the Spaniard heads to Paris for the grand slam beginning on Sunday.

Nadal spent yesterday on court instead of resting as he beat world No1 Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-3 to lift a sixth trophy at the Foro Italico in a final delayed a day by rain.

The Spaniard has recovered his winning touch with two straight clay successes against Djokovic, who beat him in seven finals in 2011 on three surfaces.

Nadal has won 2012 claycourt titles in Monte Carlo (his eighth), Barcelona (his seventh) and Rome with his only loss coming in Madrid where he went down to compatriot Fernando Verdasco.

A month after stopping the Serb in Monte Carlo, Nadal and his team travel to Roland Garros to defend that title with the player in top form.

"We will be in Roland Garros but now we are in Rome, and it's a happy day to be here with the title another time," said Nadal, not wanting to look ahead in his moment of victory.

"Rome is historical and it is for me very important to keep playing, to keep winning, and I did today.

"This is a personal satisfaction."

Nadal, 16-1 on clay this season after winning his 49th title, said beating his rival was important for his confidence.

"Winning is important. When you lose, you play with doubts," he said.

"This was an important match. I will put this trophy in my bedroom. It is a dream of confidence I am playing well. This comes when I play at the right level - hopefully I'll keep playing like this."

The 25-year-old said despite regaining the No2 ranking behind Djokovic to leave Roger Federer third, he is not concerned with the numbers.

"It is better two than three and three is better than four. But after eight years being in the top two, it is no big difference.

"It's normal for the rankings to change around Roland Garros or Wimbledon. I'm a few points from Roger. I'm happy about everything."

Finalist Djokovic goes to Paris aiming to complete a Grand Slam sweep of four in a row after winning Wimbledon and the US Open crowns last year and the Australian Open early this year.

"I cannot say I'm not thinking about it," said the Serb. "There is the possibility to win four Grand Slams in a row.

"I will be preparing for this Grand Slam, as I have all the others. It's a big event, it's two weeks long and one of our most important tournaments.

"I want to deliver my best game. I'm feeling good on the court. I just need to make a few adjustments before Paris but I'll be in top form."

- AAP

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