ATP

Djokovic saved by the rain in Rome as Nadal gains revenge over Zverev

By Sports Desk May 14, 2021

Novak Djokovic's Internazionali BNL d'Italia quarter-final with Stefanos Tsitsipas was halted by persistent rain on Friday with the world number one a set and a game down.

Reigning champion Djokovic, who is seeking a sixth triumph in Rome, struggled to get going against Tsitsipas and trails 6-4 2-1 ahead of the scheduled resumption of play on Saturday.

The top seed lost serve in the first game and continued to make some uncharacteristic errors that saw him trail 4-1 at one point.

While Djokovic did earn a first break in the sixth game, Tsitsipas stood firm to take the opening set and was in total control when again breaking his opponent early in the next set.

However, soon after the Greek had opened up a 2-1 advantage, the worsening conditions led to a pause in proceedings and organisers were eventually forced to bring the day's play to an end.

Djokovic, who converted just one of his six break point opportunities, will return to the court on Saturday and will need to improve if he is to join Rafael Nadal in the final four.

Nadal exacted some revenge on Alexander Zverev earlier on Friday to reach the semi-finals for a 12th time.

The Spaniard lost to Zverev at the same stage of the Madrid Open seven days ago but responded to questions over his form by easing through this latest encounter.

Nadal, who saved two match points before beating Denis Shapovalov on Thursday, raced 4-0 ahead in the first set against Zverev and had little trouble seeing the job through.

Aiming for a record-extending 10th title in the Italian capital, Nadal saved all eight break points he faced in the second set to advance 6-3 6-4 in two hours.

"I played more solid than Madrid. Conditions are different," he said in his post-match interview. "Here the conditions are a little more normal. I was able to control a little bit more."

"I'm happy. I played a very solid match with not many mistakes, playing the way that I have to. It's an important victory for me against a great player."

Nadal will face Reilly Opelka for a place in the final, the American beating qualifier Federico Delbonis 7-5 7-6 (7-2) to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final.

Opelka entered the tournament on a six-game losing streak, but he kept his good run going in Rome by earning the only break of the opening set in the 12th game.

Both players held throughout the second set and it was big-serving Opelka who prevailed 7-2 in the tie-break.

The day's other quarter-final between Lorenzo Sonego and Andrey Rublev also fell victim to the bad weather and will get under way on Saturday.

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    The 20-year-old Italian converted his sixth match point of an enthralling encounter on Centre Court to reach his third grand slam quarter-final.

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    At 19 years and 66 days old, Alcaraz had become the youngest male player to reach the last 16 at Wimbledon since 2011, and Sinner was keen to credit his opponent after a battle which lasted three hours and 35 minutes.

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    "Today was such a great crowd and especially today, 100 years [since Centre Court opened]… it's just amazing.

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    "I'm very happy to be in the next round, and hopefully I can play some good tennis also in the next round."

    Sinner, who boasts a 5-0 record against Spanish players in 2022, was asked where the triumph ranked among the best moments of his career.

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    Sinner also improved his 2022 record against top-10 opponents to 2-5 with the victory, with his only previous win coming against Rublev at the Monte Carlo Masters.

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    Cash's criticism comes ahead of Kyrgios facing American Brandon Nakashima on Monday. That match has been given the prize billing of first up on Centre Court, despite neither man being seeded.

    The tennis authorities may not approve of some of the behaviour, but they know there is a huge public fascination with the highly talented Kyrgios, which is why that match has such a prestigious slot. He is 40th in the ATP rankings, and 20-year-old Nakashima is 56th on the list.

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