Rafael Nadal makes ‘dangerous’ Italian Open claim as Novak Djokovic | Football | Sport


Heavy rain in Rome on Wednesday meant that the day’s play was pushed back and required Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer all to play twice yesterday among others.

Nadal sauntered through his two ties against Jeremy Chardy – beating the Frenchman 6-0, 6-1 – and Nikoloz Basilashvili – overcoming the Georgia 6-1, 6-0.

That puts the Spaniard, who is still seeking his first clay-court title of the year, into the last eight at the Masters 1000 event where he is the defending champion and an eight-time winner.

Nadal reflected: “Playing two matches is a very dangerous day. I was able to manage it well,” Nadal said. “I played well, especially I think better in the afternoon than the morning. Yeah, [I’m] happy about that level in the afternoon.”

He takes on Fernando Verdasco in the next round with his compatriot having downed both Dominic Thiem and Karen Khachanov, spending well over double Nadal’s two hours and nine minutes on court with his total play time stretching to four hours and 54 minutes as both matches went to three sets.

Nadal said of his quarter-final opponent: “”He’s always tough. He is a great player. He’s a very dangerous player for everybody when he’s playing well. He’s having a great tennis career.”.

Elsewhere, Djokovic – who Nadal could face in the Italian Open final – also had a relatively simple day as he brushed aside Denis Shapovalov in his first match 6-1, 6-3.

The world No 1 then defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-0 to set up a Foro Italico showdown with Juan Martin del Potro, who he defeated in the final of the US Open last September. 

The Serbian said: “I’m very pleased with the way the day went for me. Actually I like the fact that I didn’t play yesterday because I felt like I needed an extra maybe day of rest and recovery a little bit. 

“So it was perfect. I played both matches just above an hour. I didn’t spend too much time [on court]. I felt the ball really well.”

A four-time champion in Rome, Djokovic is looking to build on his win at the Madrid Open last week as he looks to maintain momentum going into the French Open – where he and Nadal will be the two favourites to triumph.

Del Potro is competing in just his third tournament of the year after knee surgery but the Argentine defeated both David Goffin and Casper Ruud yesterday as he continues to get back to his best form after a knee injury.

Djokovic said of Del Potro: “[He has]  had also two comfortable matches today, didn’t seem to spend too much time on the court. Of course, he probably prefers because of style of play hard court more. 

“He played equally well throughout his career on clay. With that serve and forehand, it doesn’t really matter what surface you play on. It’s quite a weapon that he has. It’s going to be a great challenge. 

“We had battles throughout our careers, last one in US Open final. I love him really as a person. He’s a lovely guy, really nice guy. We get along very well. I respect him a lot as a player.”

In the Italian Open’s other two quarter-final clashes, Federer takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas – who lost to Djokovic in the Madrid final last week – while Diego Schwartzman goes head-to-head with Kei Nishikori.

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