Rain-assisted Nadal wins record 8th Rome title

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Rafa Nadal with his Rome trophy

Heavy rain came to Rafael Nadal’s rescue in the Rome Masters final on Sunday just when defending champion Alexander Zverev was pushing towards victory.

Nadal, bidding for an eighth title at the Foro Italico, took the first set 6-1 before his German opponent levelled by taking the second by the same score.

Zverev was 3-2 ahead with a break when play was halted and the courts covered.

When play resumed a recharged Nadal seized control, firing from all cylinders to clinch the third set 6-3 and his 32nd Masters 1000 title, and his eighth in Rome, a record in the tournament.

Nadal with ATP officials and ball boys in Rome on Sunday after winning a record 8th title

It was also his third ATP title in four weeks.

With the victory, Nadal will make his return to No. 1, a spot he relinquished to holidaying Roger Federer last week.

He won the Italian Masters in 2005-07, 2009-10 and 2012-13.

The 31-year-old now stands alone in fourth place on the Open Era titles list, adding a 78th piece of silverware to pass John McEnroe. Only Jimmy Connors (109), Roger Federer (97) and Ivan Lendl (94) remain ahead of him.

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