Yesterday, Novak Djokovic and Rafa met in the semifinal round of the Masters Series event in Rome. Nadal had to win this match in order to retain the world number two ranking behind Federer. Although he got off to a slow start and was down an early break, Rafa raised his game and took the match in three sets - clearly dominating an exhausted Nole in final set. How much did this win mean to Rafa? Serving at match point, Nadal chased down a drop shot from Nole but it was ruled to have bounced twice before he could get there. Nadal quickly snapped at the chair umpire thinking that he had reached the ball in time. It was an interesting response from Nadal who is often expressive on the court but never directs his emotions at his opponent or the "staff". After a few chances, Nadal finally held and won the match. Although he won't say it, I'm sure Nadal was thinking "I adjust my wedgie in your general direction Novak". (A little Monty Python humor goes a long way.)
I believe this is a turning point for Rafa. It will be interesting to see how he does throughout the clay court season and into Wimbledon and US Open Series.