Nadal targets No 7 in Paris
Rome - Rafael Nadal is hoping to finesse his sixth trophy at the Rome Masters into a lucky seventh at the French Open as the Spaniard heads to Paris for the Grand Slam beginning on Sunday.
Nadal spent Monday on court instead of resting as he beat world No 1 Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-3 to lift a sixth trophy at the Foro Italico in a final delayed a day by rain.
The Spaniard has recovered his winning touch with two straight clay successes against Djokovic, who beat him in seven finals over the last year on three surfaces.
Nadal has won 2012 clay-court titles in Monte Carlo (his eighth), Barcelona (his seventh) and Rome with his only loss coming in Madrid where he went down to compatriot Fernando Verdasco.
A month after stopping the Serb in Monte Carlo, Nadal and his team now travel to Roland Garros with the player on top form and fully confident once again.
"We will be in Roland Garros but now we are in Rome and it's a happy day to be here with the title another time," said Nadal, not wanting to look ahead in his moment of victory.
"Rome is historical and it is for me very important to keep playing to keep winning and I did today.
"This is a personal satisfaction."
Nadal, 16-1 on clay this season after winning the 49th title, said that beating his rival was important for his confidence. "Winning is important, when you lose you play with doubts.
"This was an important match. I will put this trophy in my bedroom. It is a dream of confidence I am playing well. This comes when I play at the right level, hopefully I'll keep playing like this."
The 25-year-old said that despite regaining the No 2 ranking behind Djokovic to leave Roger Federer on third again, he is not concerned with the numbers.
"It is better two than three and three is better than four. But after eight years being in the top two, it is no big difference.
"It's normal for the rankings to change in and around Roland Garros or Wimbledon. I'm a few points from Roger. I'm happy about everything."
Finalist Djokovic goes to Paris aiming to complete a non-calendar year Grand Slam sweep of four in a row after winning Wimbledon and the US Open crowns last year and the Australian Open early this year.
"I cannot say I'm not thinking about it," said the Serb. "There is the possibility to win four Grand Slams in a row.
"I will be preparing for this Grand Slam as I have all the others. It's a big event, it's two weeks long and one of our most important tournaments.
"I want to deliver my best game. I'm feeling good on the court, I just need to make a few adjustments before Paris but I'll be in top form."
ATP World Tour rankings on Monday (last week's positions in brackets):
1. (1) Novak Djokovic (Serbia) 11800 points
2. (3) Rafael Nadal (Spain) 10060
3. (2) Roger Federer (Switzerland) 9790
4. (4) Andy Murray (Scotland) 7500
5. (5) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (France) 4965
6. (6) David Ferrer (Spain) 4640
7. (7) Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) 4500
8. (8) Janko Tipsarevic (Serbia) 3010
9. (9) Juan Martin Del Potro (Argentina) 2910
10. (11) Mardy Fish (U.S.) 2625
11. (10) John Isner (U.S.) 2620
12. (12) Gilles Simon (France) 2615
13. (14) Gael Monfils (France) 2165
14. (13) Nicolas Almagro (Spain) 2095
15. (15) Juan Monaco (Argentina) 1945
16. (16) Fernando Verdasco (Spain) 1765
17. (17) Feliciano Lopez (Spain) 1725
18. (19) Kei Nishikori (Japan) 1690
19. (18) Alexandr Dolgopolov (Ukraine) 1665
20. (22) Richard Gasquet (France) 1600
34. (35) Kevin Anderson (RSA) 1 170