Nadal, Schwartzman enter Italian Open semifinals

Rome, May 17 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 5/17/2019 11:32:10 AM IST

Defending champion and eight-time winner Rafael Nadal beat fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-4 6-0 to reach the Italian Open semi-finals.

Nadal, who has lost in the semi-finals of his past four tournaments, came from 2-0 down to win in one hour 38 minutes.

He next faces 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas, who went through following the withdrawal of Roger Federer.

Nadal, a 17-time Grand Slam winner, conceded only two games in his matches against Jeremy Chardy and Nikoloz Basilashvili on Thursday, but had to save a point to prevent a 3-0 deficit against fellow left-hander Verdasco.

He survived three break points at 4-4 in the first set but needed only 36 minutes to win the second.

Argentina’s world number 24 Diego Schwartzman also secured his place in the semi-finals with a 6-4 6-2 win over Japan’s Kei Nishikori in one hour 28 minutes.

The 24th-ranked one-time French Open quarterfinalist has not dropped a set so far on the red clay of the Foro Italico and next faces either world No. 1 Novak Djokovic or compatriot Juan Martin del Potro for a place in Sunday’s final.

Schwartzman played better on both the first and second serve, facing only three break points and getting broken twice. He had 12 winners and 14 unforced errors while Kei counted to 15 winners and 28 mistakes, the most from his forehand that let him down.

Earlier, Serbian world number 1 Novak Djokovic,  was nearly as dominant as Nadal on Thursday.

The four-time Italian Open champion started his day by defeating Canada’s Denis Shapovalov 6-1, 6-3 and then cruised past Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-0.

He will next take on big-hitting Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, the world No. 9, who won both of his matches Thursday in straight sets.

Afterward, Djokovic noted that neither he nor Del Potro had spent an inordinate amount of time on court and should be in good shape for Friday.

Injured Federer, Osaka withdraw 

World number three Roger Federer and women’s world number one Naomi Osaka have withdrawn from the Italian Open before their quarter-finals with injuries. 
Federer, 37, a four-time finalist in Rome, was competing at the event for the first time since 2016, withdraw before a match against Stefanos Tsitsipas with a right leg injury.
While Naomi Osaka withdrawn before her match against Kiki Bertens because of a hand injury. 
The Swiss saved two match points to defeat Borna Coric 2-6 6-4 7-6 (9-7) on Thursday, having beaten Joao Sousa in straight sets earlier in the day. Osaka, 21, recorded consecutive 6-3 6-3 wins over Dominika Cibulkova and Mihaela Buzarnescu on Thursday after rain had prevented play on Wednesday. Dutch world number four Bertens advances to the semi-finals in Rome.
The 27-year-old will face Britain’s Johanna Konta or Marketa Vondrousova who meet later on Friday.
Osaka will remain world number one next week, following Simona Halep’s second-round exit to Vondrousova on Thursday.

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