Novak Djokovic said on Sunday it felt “strange” not playing Rafael Nadal in the final of the Italian Open as he prepares to meet his great rival’s slayer for the Rome trophy on Sunday.
The Serbian, a four-time winner, takes on Argentine Diego Schwartzman in his 10th final on the clay of the Foro Italico, after dominating Norwegian Casper Ruud 7-5, 6-3 in Sunday’s semi-finals.
Eight seed Schwartzman battled past Canadian Denis Shapovalov 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (7/4), a day after dumping Nadal in the quarter-finals.
“Of course, you know, with Nadal in the finals and without Nadal in the finals makes a big difference,” said Djokovic, who has lost three to Nadal, including last season.
“Most of the finals that I reached in the big events on clay I played against Rafa,” continued the Serb.
“So it’s going to be strange not facing him.”
Djokovic has won all four of his…