Djokovic closes on Nadal after ruling in Rome

Rafael Nadal has spent three years waiting for the chance to overtake Roger Federer, but just when he had the world No 1 in his sights the Spaniard has a challenger looming large in his own wing mirror. Novak Djokovic, fresh from his victory here yesterday over Stanislas Wawrinka in the final of the Rome Masters, could replace Nadal as the world No 2 at the end of this week's Masters Series event in Hamburg.

Djokovic, the most successful player in the world this year, beat Wawrinka 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to move to within 310 ranking points of Nadal's total of 5,435. Having reached the final in Hamburg last year (when Djokovic made the quarter-finals), Nadal has 350 points to defend in Germany and there are question marks over his fitness after he was troubled by blisters in his second-round defeat here to Juan Carlos Ferrero.

With Federer's physical condition and form also in doubt – the world No 1 had glandular fever at the start of the year and suffered a sixth defeat of the campaign against Radek Stepanek on Friday – Djokovic is the form player going into the French Open, which begins in Paris in 13 days' time. Of the last 12 Masters events – which are the most important after the four Grand Slams – Djokovic has won four, Nadal three and Federer two.

Djokovic had a comparatively easy passage to the final here after the retirements of his quarter-final and semi-final opponents, but Wawrinka was a different proposition. The 23-year-old Swiss has had the best week of his career and will jump 14 places to No 10 in today's world rankings, giving Switzerland two players in the top 10 for the first time.

Striking the ball with great power and consistency, particularly on his backhand, Wawrinka broke in the fifth game and served out to take the first set. Djokovic looked well below his best in the early stages, but once he had broken to lead 4-2 in the second set the Serb took command.

The Australian Open champion wore his opponent down with the sheer consistency of his ground strokes and wrapped up his victory after two hours and four minutes with a majestic inside-out forehand winner.

* Britain's Andy Murray has been drawn against Dmitry Tursunov of Russia in the first round of the Hamburg Masters.

News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Arts and Entertainment
books New York Times slammed over summer reading list
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine