In his memory of Novak Djokovic’s defeat, Rafael Nadal said, “I required additional energy to keep in contact.”

In Rome 2014, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were the competitors to beat. Two fierce rivals overcame all challenges to set up the title match. In two hours and 19 minutes, Novak persevered to defeat Rafa 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to win his third Rome title and receive a huge boost before Roland Garros.

With his 19th Masters 1000 victory in Rome, Novak closed the distance to Nadal and moved two positions behind Roger Federer. The Serb won for the 19th time in their 41st meeting, 15th time in their past 23 encounters, and fourth time in a row.

Djokovic increased his lead to 12-9 in the ATP finals and 7-5 in the matchups for the Masters 1000 title. For the fourth time in 17 clay-court encounters, Rafa was ousted by Novak after falling behind in the first set. After registering 45 winners and 30 unforced errors, Djokovic had an advantage in sets two and three and won 19 more points overall.

Four return games from Nadal were not enough to keep him safe. From 14 opportunities, Novak took nearly half of the return points and converted them into six breaks. To win the title, Djokovic outperformed Nadal in both the shorter rallies (up to four strokes) and the longer rallies.

Rafa gave 120 percent even though he wasn’t playing at his best to compete against world no. 2 and remain competitive. The Serb picked up the pace and won the match after the Spaniard pulled the break back in the middle of the final.

Nadal claimed that because his legs were giving him, he needed the extra stamina in the final moments to keep up with Djokovic.

Rafael Nadal was defeated by Novak Djokovic in the 2014 Rome final.

“Not just me, but everyone finds it difficult to defeat Novak.

Being one of the finest players in the world, losing to him is expected. I had my chances and played well at times. I needed the extra stamina to keep up with him for one or two more balls in the important situations, but after a challenging week, my legs could not do that.

It was difficult for me to get ready for the shot and alter the course of the point because Novak had an early advantage in the rallies. I could have performed better, but I’m still happy with how I did. This week, I competed in a final and earned 600 points—a commendable outcome.

I maintained contact with Novak while defeating strong opponents like Andy Murray and Grigor Dimitrov. I’m more optimistic than I was a week ago about my chances in Roland Garros. I played well to forge a 4-1 lead in the opener, and then he started playing great.

At 3-3 in the decider, I needed more energy to contend with Novak’s superior first groundstroke and the necessary intensity. The moment Novak came back, I was forced out of my comfort zone. I’ve fallen to Novak four times in a row, so I need to put in a lot of effort to get ready for our next match “said Rafael Nadal.