The No.2 seed Rafael Nadal will face off against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-final of the Italian Open on Saturday.
Nadal prevailed 6-4, 6-0 in the quarter-finals against Fernando Verdasco. It was a close game at the beginning, as Verdasco got the first break of serve. With the score at 4-4 in the first set, Nadal was serving. Verdasco found himself 40-0 in that game and was on the brink of serving for the set. But Nadal fought back and claimed the first set. That seemed to take the wind out of Verdasco. Nadal dominated the second set and won it easily.
It was a tough game, especially in the opening set. Nadal was quick to accept that after the game. “It had been a very tough first set,” Nadal told the ATP. “[I’m] very happy about the victory, I played well, I suffered when I had to suffer and in the second set when the match was a little bit more in my favour, I was able to play a little bit more aggressive.”
He will face Tsitsipas in the semi-final, who had a much easier path to that stage. It did not seem like that beforehand. His quarter-final was against Roger Federer, who was the No.3 seed. But the Swiss star retired from the contest before hitting a ball. That bye will be valuable to the Greek, as he will get an extra day of rest compared to Nadal. Tsitsipas overcame Fabio Fognini in the last round.
Nadal will be the favourite but not by a long margin. The Spaniard has had a subpar clay court season by his standards. In the Monte-Carlo Masters, he lost to Fabio Fognini in straight sets. Dominic Thiem knocked him out in Barcelona in the semi-finals. Last week he played Tsitsipas in the Madrid Open semi-final. Tsitsipas won that contest 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. Nadal has usually dominated the events before Roland Garros, but that has not been the case this time. He will look to amend that in Rome.
Tsitsipas faced Novak Djokovic in the final in Madrid, and the Serbian was too much for him. Djokovic 6-3, 6-4 in straightforward fashion. Tsitsipas and Nadal have met this year one more time. They clashed in the Australian Open semi-final. Nadal won in straight sets, but that game was the first high-profile one for the Greek. He had knocked out Federer in the Round of 16 in the same tournament.
Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas Tips
Even though recent form paints a different picture, Nadal will be expected to make his first final since the Australian Open. Tsitsipas won their recent battle, and he will pose some tough questions. The Greek has enough to take a set off Nadal, but two looks to be beyond him. Nadal played some great tennis against Verdasco, particularly in the latter stages. His experience should be enough to propel him past Tsitsipas into the Italian Open final.