Rafael Nadal overcame Novak Djokovic to reach the Italian Open final ©Getty Images

Spain’s Rafael Nadal secured a place in the Italian Open final by overcoming rival Novak Djokovic at the Foro Italico in Rome today.

The tournament top-seed was the favourite heading into the encounter, against a steadily improving Djokovic, who is continuing his pursuit of top form since his elbow surgery.

Both players proved evenly matched during a tightly fought opening set, which was eventually decided on a tie break.

Nadal would come out on top to take the set, which proved a key moment as the Spaniard took control of proceedings.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion maintained the momentum to power to the second set and seal a 7-6, 6-3 victory.

Nadal will now face Germany’s Alexander Zverev, the defending champion, in the final.

Zverev overcame the challenge of Croatia’s Marin Cilic, as he secured a straight sets 7-6, 7-5 victory.

Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina booked her place in the women’s final, following a polished performance against Estonia’s Anett Knotaveit.

Svitolina claimed a 6-4, 6-3 victory to advance.

Simona Halep came from behind to beat Maria Sharapova to reach the final ©Getty Images
Simona Halep came from behind to beat Maria Sharapova to reach the final ©Getty Images

She will face top seed Simona Halep of Romania, who came from a set down to beat Russia’s Maria Sharapova.

Sharapova clinched the opening set 6-4, but Halep stormed back to win the second 6-1.

The Romanian star clinched victory by winning the decider 6-4.

The tournament is a key warm-up to the French Open, the clay court Grand Slam which begins on May 27.

It is an Association of Tennis Professionals Masters 1000 tournament and a Premier 5 event on the Women's Tennis Association tour.