Rome – Rafael Nadal wants his revenge and final: while he remains stuck in the semifinal stage since the start of the season on clay, the Spaniard will have another opportunity to pass the cap on Saturday at the Masters 1000 Rome , against the Greek Stefanos Tsistispas, who beat him in Madrid.
On a day marked by packages Roger Federer (right leg) and World No.1 Naomi Osaka (thumb right hand), Nadal has shown that he was healthy and that the two matches disputed Thursday had not really used it.
"It's good to be in the semifinals again and to have three more wins in a row", said the world N.2 after discarding his fellow Spanish Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-0.
"This is my fifth semifinal in a row. In Indian Wells I could not play, then in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid, I lost. But being there every time, it means that I play at a good level"he said.
At ten days before the start of Roland Garros, Nadal showed it against Verdasco, who nevertheless started very strong breakant entry in the first set and has had three opportunities to take the service of Nadal at 4-4.
Then the match was one-sided, the Mallorcan accelerating significantly to register eight games in a row while Verdasco seemed out of gas.
"At first, he played very well, with many winning strokes and few mistakes, taking the ball early. Afterwards, I was more aggressive and slowed him down. I did a lot of good things today, it's a good victory", judged Nadal.
Eight times winner of the tournament in Rome and defending champion, Nadal will face Saturday Tsitsipas, who qualified without playing after the withdrawal of Federer.
– End of the room service –
It was precisely Tsitsipas who beat Nadal last week in the semi-finals in Madrid. The Greek was then beaten in the final by the world No.1 Novak Djokovic.
"I know what happened in Madrid. The solutions, I know them, but the execution is not easy. The theory is always very simple", smiled Nadal.
"I just have to play well. If I do, I have a good chance. If I play badly, I will not have a chance, but almost", he added, rejoicing to have"a little more time to rest and finally go to dinner", without having to rely on room service.
As for his future opponent, 20 years and already 7th world player, the king of the clay assured that he was not surprised to see so high, so early.
"It is normal that there are young people at the top. He is a good player. Each year, we make predictions with my team on who will be in the Top 10 at the end of the season. I had put Tsitsipas. I do not say that I am a genius. It's just that he was clearly a candidate. It even started better than I thought."
In the other half of the table, the first semifinalist is Argentina's Diego Schwartzman, who beat Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-2 to reach his first semifinal in the Masters 1000. Schwartzman, 26 and 24th player world, will face the winner of the match between Djokovic and the Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro (9th).
On the women's side, Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands took advantage of the Osaka pass to reach the final four, where she will face England's Johanna Konta, who beat Czech Vondrousova in three sets (6-3, 3-6, 6-1). ).
The other semifinal will feature another Czech, Karolina Pliskova, and Greece's Maria Sakkari, coming out of qualifying.
The two women had already met last season in Rome. Furious after a referee's decision, Pliskova had given several racket shots in the referee's chair after his defeat.