In 2007, Rafael Nadal had one of his best clay-court seasons, which peaked with him accumulating an 81-match winning streak.

The Spaniard had won titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, before entering the Italian Open as the second seed. Being the defending champion, there was a lot of pressure on his shoulders to retain. However, Nadal swept through the early rounds in easy fashion, without dropping a set.

After dispatching of fifth seed Novak Djokovic 6-2 6-3, Nadal faced Russian Nikolay Davydenko in the semifinals. In a match that was as brutal as it was exciting, both men maintained their intensity for almost four hours. Nadal finally emerged victorious as his defense proved too much for the fourth-seeded Davydenko, outlasting him in a 7-6(3) 6-7(8) 6-4 thriller.

Nadal would go on to successfully defend his title in an underwhelming final against Chilean Fernando Gonzalez. His record of 81 consecutive wins on clay would end a few weeks later when he lost to Roger Federer in the 2007 Hamburg Masters Series final.

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Author: Arthur Ajayi