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Nadal and Zverev set up Italian Open final

THE latest instalment in the rivalry between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic met expectations for one tight set.

Then Nadal pulled away for a 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 win to reach the Italian Open final.

In their 51st meeting but first in more than a year, Nadal’s court coverage eventually proved too much to handle for Djokovic, who is still regaining his form after returning from a persistent right elbow injury.

“That was a tough battle, a good level of tennis, a combination of good tactics and great shots from both of us,” Nadal, who has had injury trouble of his own over the past year, said.

Nadal’s opponent in Sunday’s final will be defending champion Alexander Zverev, who recovered from an early break in the second set to beat Marin Cilic 7-6 (13-11) 6-4.

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