Just like he has in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Paris, Rafael Nadal has left quite the mark at the Rome Masters event, which was scheduled to take place this week. Since 2005, the Spaniard has won nine titles at the prestigious event, with each of those victories surely carrying some special meaning. Here’s a look at five of those memorable moments.
A First Title
By the time the 2005 edition of the Italian Open rolled around, Nadal had already established himself as the player to beat on clay with four titles that year. He extended his winning streak on the surface to 17 matches in a row after beating Guillermo Coria in a fifth-set tiebreak.
A Rugged Defense
A year later, Nadal entered Rome once again with titles in Barcelona and Monte Carlo already in the bag. In a near-mirror image of his ’05 run, Nadal once again took home the title—this time beating the world No. 1 Roger Federer in a fifth-set breaker.
Finding the courts as comfortable as any he’s ever played on, Nadal thoroughly demonstrated how formidable he can be in the Italian capital in 2009 and 2012. He won the event both times without dropping a set, defeating Novak Djokovic—one of his biggest rivals—in both finals.
Aside from exacting revenge on Djokovic in the 2012 final, after losing the title to him the prior year, the victory was particularly noteworthy for the Spaniard: The win marked his sixth at the tournament, breaking the record of five he shared with the “Queen of Clay,” Chris Evert.
The Drought Ends
Surprisingly, Nadal hit a bit of a rough patch in Rome: After losing in the 2014 final to Djokovic, he fell in the quarterfinals for three straight years. Entering the 2018 edition as the second seed, he rediscovered his winning ways there, beating Djokovic in the semifinals and rising star Alexander Zverev in the title match.