ROME, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal for the fourth straight time to capture his third Italian Open title with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 win on Sunday.
In their 41st-career meeting, the most of any two ATP players in the Open Era, Djokovic, the second seed, overcame a slow start to dominate the remaining two sets of the match.
The precision of his hitting kept top-ranked Nadal on defense for much of the match, and he finished with 46 winners to just 15 for Nadal.
"Winning against Rafa in the finals of a big tournament on clay, his preferred surface, is definitely a confidence booster," Djokovic said. "It's the ultimate challenge and I'm very happy with my game so far and hopefully I can carry that into Roland Garros."
Nadal struggled to get enough depth on his shots to push Djokovic back and blamed a week of tough three-set matches for his lack of energy.
"My legs didn't answer after a tough week, not [good enough] to arrive and to produce the power and to hit the ball longer so I let him play in positive positions," Nadal said.