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

Rafael Nadal defeats Stefanos Tsitsipas to reach Italian Open final

Rafael Nadal defeats Stefanos Tsitsipas to reach Italian Open final

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.

Roger Federer, a four-time finalist in Rome, trailed 0-4 before dropping the first set, coming back in the second and saving two match points in the third set tie-break.

But Nadal, a 17-time Grand Slam victor, has not dropped a set all week en route to an 11th Rome final.

Facing five break points in game five, Djokovic gave serve away after a backhand down the line bullet from Nadal who sealed the opener with a service victor in game six for a 6-0 after 38 minutes.

Tsitsipas beat Nadal in last week's Madrid Open semi-finals before falling to Novak Djokovic, but lost to the Spaniard in the Australian Open semis earlier this year. Djokovic really turns up the defensive pressure in the key points and dominated his service game in the third set.

Federer played two matches on Thursday, beating Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-4, 6-3 in 80 minutes and surviving Croatian 13th seed Borna Coric 2-6, 6-4. "I was all the time getting myself together and trying to push for more energy".

"Today when I was hitting the forehand, he was not able to hit his forehand".

The world number nine received treatment on a bloodied big toe after Djokovic levelled one-set all. In addition, we can see from the stats in the previous paragraph that he actually was the better player in defeat against Tsitsipas last week - he just didn't take his chances.

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The 15-time Grand Slam victor next plays Argentine Diego Schwartzman, who eliminated Japanese sixth seed Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-2.

The 32-year-old Spaniard, who has lost in the semi-finals of his past four events, beat France's Jeremy Chardy 6-0 6-1 and Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-1 6-0.

So for Roger, it's been a positive return to the clay so far, but I just don't think it will get any easier in Paris in a best-of-5, especially if the weather is anything like it was in Rome (cool and wet)!

Nadal faces Tsitsipas on Saturday, one week after the latter was victorious in their semi-final meeting in Madrid. "I'm just very happy to have come through".

She will face world number seven Pliskova, who defeated Greece's Maria Sakkari 6-4 6-4.

"She's very hard to play in that sense because she has a big serve, she has big shots, but she's also backing it up withbeing incredibly astute on court".

Pliskova and Sakkari last met in the second round at the Foro Italico when the Czech, furious at a line call, smashed a hole in the umpire's chair after losing in three sets.

"I feel like the ab thing could have been helped, but this one I don't think I could have helped it because I don't know what caused it", Osaka said.

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