Nadal sweeps into Rome semifinals

Nadal sweeps into Rome semifinals

Rome – Roger Federer and Naomi Osaka both pulled out Italian open on Friday before their quarterfinals due to injuries just a week before the start of the French Open, as a defense champion Rafael Nadal swept into the last four.

The eight-hour champion came through 6-4, 6-0 against compatriot Fernando Verdasco to create a rematch with the Greek rising star Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in the final.

Tsitsipas advanced after Federer – returning to clay after a two-year absence – retired with right leg injuries before their game.

"I'm not 100 percent physically and after consulting my team, it was established that I am not playing," said Federer, 37.

Nadal's 32-year-old, seeded second, advanced to his fourth straight semifinal, but has failed to move on laughing this season before his bid for a 12th French Open title at Roland Garros starting May 26.

Tsitsipas beat Nadal last week's Madrid Open semifinal before falling to Novak Djokovic, but lost to Spain in the Australian Open semis earlier this year.

Reigning American and Australian open champion Osaka had previously said she could not compete because of a problem with her hand.

"I woke up this morning and I couldn't really move my thumb," the 21-year-old told a press conference.

"I can't move my hand. I can't move my thumb, and I'm not sure I can play my fight.

"I tried to practice and grabbed my racket and I just felt this pain every time I tried to move my hand in different directions."

The Japanese star was due to meet Madrid Open champion and sixth seed Kiki Bertens.

Bertens goes through to meet either Britain's Johanna Konta or Czech Marketa Vondrousova.

"I haven't seen the doctor yet. I've seen physio," she said.

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

"I'll stay here one day and see how it is," she said.

"I haven't really talked to anyone, so don't really know the plan is yet. I've never had this problem before, it's completely new."

"I'll take it as if I went to Australia," added Osaka, who also retired with a leg injury against Bertens in the WTA Finals last October, before continuing to win in Melbourne.

"Grand Slams to me is like a playground, I have a lot of fun there."

Osaka won twice on Thursday after the previous day's game was figured out and held the world's number one place in front of the French opening.

Federer played in the Italian capital to prepare for his return to the French Open for the first time since 2015.

"I'm disappointed that I can't compete today," said Federer, who also reached the quarterfinals in Madrid.

"Rome has always been one of my favorite cities to visit and I hope to be back next year."

The 20-time Grand Slam champion had been on trial for nearly four hours on Thursday, saving two fighters to win through three sets against Borna Coric after previous easing to a straight set win over Portgual's Joao Sousa.

The former World No. 1 had been a late addition to the Rome tournament when he sought clay-court practice before his bid to add to his 2009 lone French open title.

In court, Argentine Diego Schwartzman sent Japanese sixth seed Kei Nishikori to reach the semifinals.

Schwartzman, 26, won 6-4, 6-2 for 87 minutes in the quarterfinals of his first victory in four meetings with former US Open finalist Nishikori.

World No. 24, a French open quarter-finalist last year, has not dropped a set so far at Foro Italico's red clay and almost faces either the best-ranked Djokovic or compatriot Juan Martin del Potro.

"It's not the best result I wanted, but I get better every Barcelona tournament and look forward to playing the French," Nishikori said.

Results from ATP and WTA Italian Open in Rome on Friday (x means seeding):


Quarter finals

Diego Schwartzman (ARG) bt Kei Nishikori (JPN x6) 6-4, 6-2

Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x8) with Roger Federer (SUI x3) – walkover

Rafael Nadal (ESP x2) bt Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 6-4, 6-0


Quarter finals

Kiki Bertens (NED x6) bt Naomi Osaka (JPN x1) – walkover

. (tagsToTranslate) atp tour (t) rafael nadal (t) tennis

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