Nadal's inability to muster an offensive mindset on a more consistent basis hurt him dearly, even though he generally made good on his promise to be more aggressive with his forehand, and the fact that he unveiled a new tactic, serving into Djokovic's body. Nadal enjoyed good success with that serve at different points, yet Djokovic spent long periods of the match getting deep into Nadal's serve, mostly because of Nadal's innate caution.
It appeared that Nadal was sunk when he fell behind love-40 in that eighth game of the fourth set; it seemed like the end of a long, seemingly inevitable slide during which Djokovic punished Nadal severely for not moving further into the court to challenge him. But at 0-40, Nadal uncorked a string of five straight points, including an ace and two service winners, to stay in the hunt at 4-all. When he won the ensuing tiebreaker, the complexion of the match changed radically.
That comeback was the first real turning point of the match; the second occurred in the fifth set, with Nadal serving ahead 4-2. In that game, Nadal was up 30-15, having won 11 of his previous 12 first-serve points while playing a more aggressive, forward-moving game. Nadal hit a poor semi-drop volley on the next point, and Djokovic got to the ball and pushed it back. Nadal had a great look at a backhand pass but he shoved it just wide. Suddenly, Nadal found himself in that familiar, nervous-making place, 30-all. A pair of forehand errors by Nadal, the latter off the service return, got Djokovic back on even terms.
As for the rest of it ... Nadal grew defensive, positionally, but he hit the ball nearly as well as Djokovic. The ensuing rallies were both compelling and almost painful to watch, as the men grimaced and fist-pumped their way into and well beyond the five-and-a-half hour mark. Nadal fell behind 15-40 in the 11th game, and he was good enough only to wipe away one of those ensuing break points. But an error of the backhand side by Nadal gave Djokovic the final break.
Fittingly enough, Nadal had one salvo left. He fought back from 0-30 down in the last game, and reached break point. But Djokovic drilled a cross-court backhand to elicit a forehand error to get to deuce and, two points later, Djokovic was lying on his back on the floor of Rod Laver Arena, champion again.
Rafa Nadal made short work of his great rival Roger Federer to win the Italian Open, while Serena Williams took down Victoria Azarenka in the women's final.
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