The king of clay is back, this time beating Roger Federer in straight sets, in 68 minutes to win his seventh Italian Open title.
In the 30th career meeting between the pair, who share 28 Grand Slam singles titles, the Spaniard raced to a 6-1, 6-3 victory at Rome’s Foro Italico.
Nadal, who has now won five of his eight tournaments since returning from a seven- months hiatus due to a knee injury, fared better in his 14th match against Federer on clay. And the victory meant the Spaniard has now won 12 of his 14 matches on clay against the 31- year- old Federer.
“If you’d told me that four or five months ago I would have said you are crazy,” Nadal said.
“So far, eight tournaments, six victories and two finals, it’s a dream for me,” the Spaniard, who has won 36 of 38 matches in 2013 added.
The 26- year- old heads to the French Open in tremendous form as he look to cap an Open- era record of eight titles at the Roland Garros, knowing he will possibly be seeded fourth in time to potentially avoid leading rival Novak Djokovic until the semi finals.
The Swiss did not help himself with too many unforced errors in the early stages, and his forehand let him down as he was broken in game three.
Nadal’s mightily impressive victory saw him tighten his grip on the first set with a fizzing backhand return at the start of game four, recording his 11th point out of a possible 13.
He broke again in a stunning rally that ended with a forehand winner which left Federer rooted to the spot, and the first set was over in little more than half an hour.
As the game progressed, Federer chipped a backhand down the line and gamely approached the net, for Nadal to return with his own backhand across the Swiss to break early in the second set, at which point it was obvious a humiliation was on the card for the world number two.
Federer was applauded sympathetically by the crowd when he held serve to claim only his second game of the match, making the score 6-1, 3-1 to Nadal.
But the Spaniard then produced one of the shots of the tournament with a magnificent backhand winner down the line to break yet again, on for a late Federer flourish.
The Swiss did cut the deficit by two games to at least prolong the match beyond the hour mark, but Nadal was clinical with his second chance to serve, which he did to love.
“He played very aggressively from the start,” Federer said. “He didn’t make too many mistakes and had a good match overall.”
“Rafa has much more topspin than all the guys I played this week, so the change was quite a big one. I tried to play offensively, but unfortunately I didn’t have the best day.
“It didn’t go the way I was hoping it to go,” Federer concluded.