Published: Mon, May 20, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Novak Djokovic relishing Rafael Nadal 'challenge' ahead of Italian Open final

Novak Djokovic relishing Rafael Nadal 'challenge' ahead of Italian Open final

"I am not 100% physically and after consultation with my team, it was determined that I not play", said 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer.

Both of Japan's top players had won two games on Thursday, but Osaka said she was unable to move her right thumb when she woke up. "The good thing is during the last month my feeling is every week was better than the previous one".

In a battle between former women s world number ones, Karolina Pliskova won through against Victoria Azarenka 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-2.

Although Djokovic raised his level after suffering the indignity of a bagel, Nadal still dictated play for the most part and looked likely to triumph in straight sets, only to then be surprisingly broken for only the second time in the tournament when he made back-to-back errors serving at 4-5.

"I haven t really talked to everyone so don t really know the plan is yet".

Those victories had clinched Osaka the No. 1 seed for the French Open, but it remains to be seen whether the injury will impact her participation in Paris. "But I mean, I can't necessarily say it's been ups and downs because if I think about it, it's definitely been going up".

Osaka said she could stay in Rome before going on to the French Open, but did not rule out competing at Roland Garros.

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Schwartzman will face the victor of Novak Djokovic vs Juan Martin del Potro, with the pair in action later this evening.

The 21-year-old Japanese was scheduled to face sixth seed Kiki Bertens after coming through two matches on Thursday in the rain-affected tournament but said she was forced to withdraw due to pain and swelling at the base of her thumb. She was yet to see a doctor but when she held her hand up for reporters to see it was clearly swollen.

The big profile withdrawals continue to haunt the Italian Open, as Roger Federer became the latest casualty of the trend. The solution, I know.

Djokovic leads their head-to-head 28-25; Nadal has a 16-7 advantage of clay, although the players have split their last 14 matches on that surface. It wasn't immediately clear how serious the injury was, or if it will affect Osaka's status for the French Open, which starts in nine days.

Roger Federer and Naomi Osaka have each withdrawn from the Italian Open with injuries.

In Sunday's final, Nadal will resume his rivalry with top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who faced an unusually high number of drop shots from Diego Schwartzman before winning 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-3.

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