Rafael Nadal was grateful for a timely rain delay after fighting back to beat Alexander Zverev in a pulsating Internazionali d'Italia final.
Nadal will return to the top of the rankings on Monday following his eighth success in Rome, but he had to dig himself out of a hole to beat Zverev 6-1 1-6 6-3.
The 16-time grand slam champion was 3-1 down in the final set when play was halted for a short time and a delay of around 50 minutes followed after Nadal had made it 3-2.
That lengthy break halted Zverev's momentum and Nadal brushed the defending champion aside to regain the title, ensuring Roger Federer's latest spell at the top of the rankings was only brief.
Nadal will go into the French Open in fine fettle after winning three of the four tournaments he entered on clay following his return from injury, but he knows there was an element of fortune about his latest triumph.
"When it happened, the rain delay, I didn't feel in that moment that it would help me," the Spaniard said.
"That's my feeling. It's true that, if we analyse it now, of course, we can say that the rain delay helped me. But really, in my opinion, what helped me is that I came back with a clear idea in terms of tactical issues and in terms of decisions that I took after that break.
"And, of course, a little bit of luck that I had the break back immediately. That was a big help. And I think I played with the right determination and strategy later."
Couldn't be happier traveling back home now with this trophy in my hands... Took this picture at the locker room for you guys, Thanks for the support!!! pic.twitter.com/iNbbdOKGXe— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) May 20, 2018
Zverev said he struggled to get going again when play resumed as his 13-match winning run was brought to a halt.
"There's nothing I can do about it," Zverev said about the rain. "Next time, I have to find a way to come out better after the rain and play better tennis. He came out way faster and played much more aggressive than I did.
"And, you know, with the fatigue I had it took me a very long time to get activated again and to get going. Obviously, it wasn't enough time. It just changed momentum. And Rafa is somebody that if you're not in the match and if you're not feeling the ball well, you have no chance."
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