Novak Djokovic stormed back from a first set deficit to defeat Rafael Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 Sunday afternoon and win his third Italian Open title. The win was Djokovic’s fourth straight over the No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Spaniard, and improved the Serb’s record to 19-22 against his long-time rival. Djokovic’s third Masters crown of the year – he also won at Indian Wells and Miami in March – brings his career total to 19, trailing only Nadal (27) and Roger Federer (21) on the all-time list. Nadal, a seven-time winner at Rome and the two-time defending champion, was contesting his ninth final at the Foro Italico. Djokovic, No. 2 in the world, appeared fully recovered from the wrist injury he suffered at Monte Carlo last month which forced him to miss the Madrid Masters a week ago. The Serb employed a high-risk, high-reward gameplan against Nadal – hit hard, hit deep and take chances – but misfired often in the first set, dropping serve twice in his first three service games to trail 4-1. Nole got one of the breaks back for 4-2, but by then it was too late as Nadal closed out the set in 49 minutes. Djokovic cut down on his errors in the second set, broke in the second game, and leading 3-1, 40-0 on his serve, appeared to be in control. Uncharacteristically, he lost five straight points to squander his break advantage. He got the break right back though in the next game, and held out to take the second set. Djokovic hit 18 winners to just three for Nadal in the stanza. On a roll, Djokovic broke in the opening game of the third set, was broken in the sixth, and then parlayed breaks in the seventh and ninth to seal the victory. It took two hours and 19 minutes of hard work. “Winning against Rafa in the finals of a big tournament on clay, his preferred surface, is definitely a confidence booster,” Djokovic said. “It’s the ultimate challenge and I’m very happy with my game so far and hopefully I can carry that into Roland Garros.” Djokovic hit 46 winners to 15 for Nadal, while committing 30 unforced errors to 27 for his opponent. The Serb saved two of six break points, Nadal eight of 14.