Rafael Nadal of Spain returns the ball to Novak Djokovic of Serbia during their final match at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome on Sunday. Photo: Gregorio Borgia/AP

ROME – Rafael Nadal won a record 34th ATP Masters 1000 title with a 6-0 4-6 6-1 victory over Novak Djokovic in the Italian Open final on Sunday.

The Spaniard, who had shared the record of 33 Masters titles with the Serbian world number one, warmed up for the defence of his French Open crown by securing his ninth Rome title.

Nadal got off to a flying start by whitewashing a shellshocked Djokovic in the opening set. It was the first time there has been a 6-0 set during a meeting between the two rivals.

Djokovic took the second by breaking Nadal's serve for the first time while leading 5-4, but the second seed responded in style by storming through the decisive set. 

Earlier in the day, Czech fourth seed Karolina Pliskova swept past Britain's Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-4 to win the WTA Italian Open final.

Pliskova, the 2017 French Open semi-finalist, clinched her 13th career title, in the final major warm-up tournament on clay before Roland Garros starts on May 26.

A break in each set was enough for former world number one Pliskova to get past Konta, sealing victory on her third match point after 85 minutes on court.

"It was a great week for me and my team," said the 27-year-old, now coached by former Rome champion Conchita Martinez.

"There were a couple of tough matches so I was happy to fight through them. I was a little bit nervous today, but it was the final in Rome, so that's to be expected."

Top seeds Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova pulled out injured during the event, while Roland Garros champion Simona Halep crashed out in her opening match in Italy. 

Four-time Rome winner Serena Williams also withdrew before the second round as her return after a two-month layoff was cut short when her knee injury flared up.

Sunday's results

Men

Final

Rafael Nadal (ESP x2) bt Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) 6-0, 4-6, 6-1  

Women

Final

Karolina Pliskova (CZE x4) bt Johanna Konta (GBR) 6-3, 6-4

Reuters