British number one Johanna Konta is out of the Italian Open after a third-round defeat by Garbine Muguruza.
British number one Johanna Konta is out of the Italian Open after a third-round defeat by Garbine Muguruza.
Pavic/Soares beaten in Match Tie-break
Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin needed just 53 minutes to book their place in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia semi-finals on Friday.
The unseeded duo saved each of the three break points it faced to defeat Australian Open finalists Max Purcell and Luke Saville 6-1, 6-1. After saving three match points in their opening match against Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Stefanos Tsitsipas on Wednesday, Melzer and Roger-Vasselin have dropped only eight games across their past two matches.
The Dubai semi-finalists are attempting to reach their first final as a team. Melzer and Roger-Vasselin will face Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin in the semi-finals. The Frenchmen recovered from a set down to beat Rohan Bopanna and Denis Shapovalov 4-6, 7-5, 10-7.
Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos saved one match point to defeat US Open champions Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares 4-6, 7-6(7), 10-6 in just under two hours. The fourth seeds are chasing their third team title of the year, following back-to-back triumphs on clay at the Argentina Open and Rio Open presented by Claro in February.
Soares and Pavic entered the contest on a seven-match winning streak. They were attempting to capture their second ATP Masters 1000 crown as a team (2019 Rolex Shanghai Masters).
Granollers and Zeballos, who reached the Generali Open final in Kitzbühel last week, will face John Peers and Michael Venus in the semi-finals. Peers and Venus needed 73 minutes to overcome Italian wild cards Lorenzo Sonego and Andrea Vavassori 6-3, 3-6, 10-7.
Rafael Nadal is in top form at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, his first tournament since February.
The nine-time champion cruised past 2019 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters finalist Dusan Lajovic 6-1, 6-3 on Friday to reach his 15th Rome quarter-final.
“I played at I think a very positive level of tennis. Of course it needs to keep improving. I need to keep working on a couple of things that are not coming automatically.
But I can’t ask for more,” Nadal said. “[It was] another great evening for me against another good opponent. Can’t complain at all. Much better [than] what I expected.”
Nadal has only lost six games in his first two matches, including a 6-1, 6-1 triumph against US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta on Wednesday. The Spaniard has won an impressive 73 per cent (11/15) of his return games to reach his 93rd Masters 1000 quarter-final.
“The first set it was 6-1, but a super tough beginning of the match. A lot of good points,” Nadal said. “[I’m] very happy, it’s an important victory for me after such a long time. To start the tournament with these two victories is great news.”
Lajovic is a dangerous clay-court foe. Last season, the Serbian reached the Monte Carlo final and lifted his maiden ATP Tour trophy on Umag’s clay. But Nadal never allowed the World No. 25 to get going on Court Centrale, manoeuvring him around the court as if he had him on a string. The second seed was firing with his forehand and struck his cross-court backhand well to keep Lajovic on the move.
“I know Dusan can play great shots. He’s a player with a lot of spin, a lot of power in the hand,” Nadal said. “I needed the consistency. I needed to let him play from the back, not from comfortable positions.”
The shot of the match came at 2-1 in the first set. Lajovic hit a kick serve out wide that nearly put the legendary lefty into the flower boxes on the side of the court, but Nadal responded by crushing a down-the-line return winner to break serve. Lajovic battled hard, winning three consecutive games from 1-6, 0-4 down by improving his court positioning, but it was too little, too late. Nadal quickly halted his momentum, holding and then breaking at love to close out his 90-minute win.
The World No. 2 leads Lajovic 3-0 in their ATP Head2Head series. He has won seven of their eight sets by a margin of 6-3 or greater.
Nadal will next face eighth seed Diego Schwartzman, who rallied past dangerous Pole Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 after two hours and nine minutes. The Spaniard leads their rivalry 9-0, with seven of those victories coming in straight sets.
“[It] always has been very tough and tricky matches against him,” Nadal said. “I know I have to play very well if I want to have chances and that’s what I’m going to try [to do].”
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Schwartzman has enjoyed success in Rome, reaching the semi-finals last year with straight-set triumphs against Kei Nishikori and Matteo Berrettini. The Argentine trailed Hurkacz by a break in the third set, but he battled back under the lights.
Did You Know?
Nadal and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic both own 35 Masters 1000 titles. If either man triumphs in Rome, they will stand alone atop the Masters 1000 title leaderboard.
Novak Djokovic battles past compatriot Filip Krajinovic to reach the last eight at the Italian Open.
Serbian to play Koepfer for semi-final spot
Novak Djokovic advanced to the Internazionali BNL d’Italia quarter-finals for the 14th straight year on Friday, following his 7-6(7), 6-3 victory against countryman Filip Krajinovic.
The 33-year-old saved five of six break points to improve to 14-0 in third-round matches at the ATP Masters 1000 event after two hours and seven minutes. Djokovic struggled to take his chances in an 87-minute opening set, but raised his level in the second set to maintain his perfect record of quarter-final appearances in the Italian capital.
“It was definitely one of the longest sets I think I have ever played,” said Djokovic. “Never easy, I think, emotionally to play against someone that is one of my best friends for many years… I think the first set could have gone a different way, as well.
“Fortunately for me it went my way, and that allowed me to swing through the ball a bit more in the second set. Maybe physically and mentally he dropped a level, and I used my opportunities and capitalised to win in straight sets.”
The four-time champion has now won 28 of his 29 matches this year, highlighted by title runs at the Australian Open, Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and Western & Southern Open.
Djokovic is aiming to break a tie with fellow 35-time Masters 1000 champion Rafael Nadal by lifting his 36th crown at the level this week. The World No. 1 equalled Nadal’s record Masters 1000 trophy haul last month by completing the Career Golden Masters for a second time at the Western & Southern Open. No other singles player has achieved the feat once.
More than 10 years after their only previous ATP Head2Head contest in Belgrade, Djokovic and Krajinovic traded breaks to open their third-round clash on Centrale. Djokovic attacked his opponent’s forehand and attempted to break up play with drop shots throughout the first set, but could not execute that game plan when holding two set points at 5-4 on Krajinovic’s serve.
Krajinovic moved up the court well to finish points and establish a 4/1 lead in the tie-break, before Djokovic charged back by dictating rallies with his forehand and serving with added power. The 33-year-old converted his fifth set point when Krajinovic committed a forehand error. Both players won 61 points throughout the set, which lasted 87 minutes.
Djokovic found success early in the second set, driving forehands down the line to break serve at 1-1. The 17-time Grand Slam champion maintained his advantage to reach 5-3 and played with consistency from the baseline to break serve for a third time.
The Serbian, who tied Pete Sampras’ tally of 286 weeks as the No. 1 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings on Monday, will face Dominik Koepfer of Germany for the first time for a place in the semi-finals.
Koepfer became the first qualifier to reach the quarter-finals in Rome in 11 years, beating #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti 6-4, 6-0. Following in the footsteps of 2009 quarter-finalists Juan Monaco and Mischa Zverev, the 26-year-old was clinical in crucial moments. Koepfer saved all five break points he faced and converted each of his four break points en route to victory.
Koepfer was forced to save match point in his opening match at this event against Alex de Minaur. The lefty then upset fifth seed Gael Monfils in the second round to earn his maiden Top 10 win. The World No. 97 is making his debut in the main draw at a Masters 1000 event this week.
Musetti entered the tournament seeking his first ATP Tour victory. The 18-year-old upset Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori in straight sets to reach the third round. As a result of his performances in Rome, Musetti will crack the Top 200 in the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time. The 6’1” right-hander will be the second-youngest player inside the Top 200, behind 17-year-old Carlos Alcaraz of Spain (No. 186).
Bulgarian star tells Sinner to keep working hard
For a player as experienced as Grigor Dimitrov, once touted as the next big thing, he knows about hard graft and, ultimately, beginning to fulfill potential.
The former World No. 3 believes Jannik Sinner, whom be beat 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Friday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, should follow his own path and not get carried away by the hype surrounding the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion.
“I always say until you become a champion, you can’t say you’re a champion,” said Dimitrov. “This is, I would say, one of the biggest mistakes when I was upcoming, when everyone was telling me, ‘Oh, you’re going to be a champion one day. You’re going to be No. 1.’
“I never listen to those things. He should not listen to all of that. He should follow his way. I have noticed a few of his games in the past year, even when he played in the Next Gen [ATP Finals]. What I like [is that] he’s already a very strong guy, meaning his legs are very strong already for his age. So, I feel, he can only get better.
“I think Riccardo [Piatti] is doing a great job with him. I think time can only tell for him. I think that’s just how it is… I think on hard [courts] he’s playing really well. Even on clay today, I thought it was a very good match on his end.”
Sinner, 19, was attempting to become the first Italian teenager to reach the Rome quarter-finals at the Foro Italico.
Dimitrov was a successful junior, winning the 2008 Wimbledon and US Open junior titles, but he didn’t compile his best season as a pro until 2017, when he captured his first ATP Masters 1000 crown at the Western & Southern Open (d. Kyrgios) and lifted the biggest trophy of his career at the Nitto ATP Finals (d. Goffin).
“When I was 19, 20, or 21, I was this skinny kid that didn’t have enough of my body to be able to compete against the big guys,” said 29-year-old Dimitrov. “Now, all of a sudden, you come out and you have these guys, they are 19, 20, 21, [and] already so well developed that this already plays a big role in the game.
“But I always say tennis is not a sprint. Tennis is a marathon. It’s going to be here and there, you’re going to have matches that you’re just going to win with experience.
“I think, in a way, that’s what happened today. I know what it is to be 19 years old and you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You come out and you’re so loose in your shots and you make unbelievable plays at the toughest times.
“For the older guys, it’s not the easiest sort of way to compete against. For sure, we’re going to have more pressure, but that’s… why this suits us a little bit more, because we can lean on the experience. We can kind of go deep down in that zone and be more aware of whatever situation we need to face.”
Dimitrov will next face No. 12 seed Denis Shapovalov on Saturday, attempting to reach the Rome semi-finals for a second time (also 2014).
Bulgarian star needs five match points for victory
Grigor Dimitrov denied Italy a second quarter-finalist at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Friday, just minutes after Matteo Berrettini extended his run at the Foro Italico.
Dimitrov, the No. 15 seed and 2014 semi-finalist, battled hard to beat Italian wild card Jannik Sinner 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 25 minutes on Grand Stand Arena. He will now prepare to challenge No. 12 seed Denis Shapovalov or Ugo Humbert on Saturday.
Dimitrov hit 19 winners for his ninth match win of 2020, while 39 of Sinner’s 65 unforced errors came off his forehand wing. “It’s a tough loss obviously, today,” said Sinner. “I hope I can take out as many positive things as possible. I think [on] some points, I have been a little bit unfortunate.”
Sinner made a fast start, breaking Dimitrov in the first game to love when the Bulgarian mishit a backhand wide. The Italian saved three break points in the next game and when he served for the 45-minute set at 5-4, Sinner recovered from 0/30 with four straight points, ending with Dimitrov slicing a backhand long.
Things went bad to worse for Dimitrov, when he lost his first service game of the second set, but he was able to bounce back immediately. At 4-5, when Sinner led 30/15, the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion had Dimitrov deep behind the baseline, but a poor forehand volley let Dimitrov strike back a backhand crosscourt winner. Two consecutive forehand errors from Sinner handed Dimitrov the second set.
Dimitrov hung tough in the decider and broke to love for a 3-1 lead when Sinner hit a backhand wide. The drama wasn’t over, as Dimitrov got broken when serving at 5-3. However, in the next game, Dimitrov finally converted his fifth match point after Sinner hit a bounce smash into the net.
Dimitrov reached his seventh ATP 500-level semi-final at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC (l. to Nadal) in February.
Two tie-breaks needed in scrappy all-Italian contest
Matteo Berrettini became the fifth Italian since 2000 to reach the Inernazionali BNL d’Italia quarter-finals on Friday. The World No. 8 needed to dig deep to beat compatriot and wild card Stefano Travaglia 7-6(5), 7-6(1) in two hours and two minutes on Centrale at the Foro Italico.
The 24-year-old will now contest his second ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final (also 2019 Rolex Shanghai Masters) against Norway’s Casper Ruud on Saturday.
Berrettini started with confidence, but Travaglia soon recovered an early break to win three straight games. Errors and a lapse in concentration gave Berrettini a 3/0 advantage in the tie-break, and while Travaglia worked hard to stay in touch, terrific defence in the sun by Berrettini helped the World No. 8 to the 60-minute opener, which ended with a powerful backhand.
Berrettini took a rather fortuitous 5-3 lead in the second set, after a slice backhand clipped the top of the net and gave Travaglia little chance to scramble up. But Travaglia bounced back immediately when deep returning saw the World No. 84 recover to 4-5.
Berrettini ran around his backhand to strike a forehand in the net on his first match point at 6-5, with Travaglia serving at 30/40. But in the tie-break, it was all Berrettini, who hit 11 of his 17 winners in the match off his forehand wing.
It was their first tour-level meeting, after Travaglia had won each of their previous three matches at Italian ITF Futures events in 2015 and 2016.
Casper Ruud followed in his father’s footsteps on Friday afternoon by reaching an ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final with a 6-2, 7-6(6) win over Marin Cilic, the 2018 semi-finalist, in one hour and 33 minutes. Christian Ruud advanced to the 1997 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters quarter-finals.
Ruud took a 3-0 lead in his first ATP Head2Head meeting against Cilic and broke for a second time in the eighth game of the first set. Cilic saved two match points from 4/6 in the second-set tie-break, with a powerful forehand approach and a deep forehand return that Ruud couldn’t control. Ruud converted his third opportunity at 7/6 when Cilic overhit a forehand, one of 30 unforced errors for the Croatian.
Petra Kvitova says she sometimes wishes she could be a “normal human being” after admitting it is tough to have a “real life”.
Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal surprised even himself at how well he played in his first match back in more than six months at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. The No. 2 seed now shifts his focus to securing a quarter-final berth when he meets Serb Dusan Lajovic in the third round on Friday.
Two days after he swept aside compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta for the loss of just two games, Nadal continues his bid for a record 36th ATP Masters 1000 title when he meets Lajovic for the third time.
“It was a perfect start for me. It was solid, good shots on the forehand and backhand. I didn’t expect to play that well,” Nadal said of his first-round win. “I played a very solid match and very serious and doing a lot of things very well. So very happy.”
Nadal brings a 2-0 ATP Head2Head record into the clash, having not conceded a set in the two Grand Slam showdowns. The Serb came into the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome with a 0-3 record since the ATP Tour resumed.
The World No. 25 has struck form at the Foro Italico. He brought down #NextGenATP player Alejandro Davidovich Fokina before he upset No.13 seed Milos Raonic in three sets in the second round.
An Open Era record-equalling four Italians are through to the Round of 16 in Rome – the first time since 1979 – with all in action on Friday. One is guaranteed of reaching the quarter-finals when No. 4 seed Matteo Berrettini faces wild card Stefano Travaglia.
Shining on home soil at the @intebnlditalia 🇮🇹
4️⃣ Italians advance to R3 in Rome for the first time since 1979!
— ATP Tour (@atptour) September 17, 2020
Three could advance for the first time in the Open Era should 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner and #NextGenATP qualifier Lorenzo Musetti prevail. Not since 1984 have two Italians reached the quarter-finals and it was 2006 when a pair of teenagers last made it that far when Nadal and Gael Monfils advanced.
Following a first-round win over Argentine Federico Coria, top-ranked Italian Berrettini will meet World No. 84 Travaglia in a first tour-level meeting between the pair. Travaglia won their three Futures matches on clay in Italy in 2015 and 2016 and comes off straight-sets wins over Taylor Fritz and Borna Coric this week.
No Italian teenager has reached the quarter-finals in Rome but Sinner and Musetti could make it two in 2020. World No. 81 Sinner looks to back up his biggest career win over Stefanos Tsitsipas when he meets No. 15 seed Grigor Dimitrov in the pair’s first meeting on Friday.
A qualifier is assured of reaching the Rome quarter-finals for the first time since 2009 when Musetti takes on German Dominik Koepfer. The 18-year-old Italian stunned three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka in his Rome debut.
He followed up with a victory over former World No. 4 Kei Nishikori. After Koepfer saved a match point to deny Alex de Minaur, the 26-year-old scored his first Top 10 win when he saw off Gael Monfils on Thursday.
There are 5 players 22 and under in R16 @InteBNLdItalia, the most since 2009 when there were 6. Here is the line-up:
[Q] #LorenzoMusetti (18)
[WC] @janniksin (19)
 @denis_shapo (21)@CasperRuud98 (21)@HumbertUgo (22)
— ATP Media Info (@ATPMediaInfo) September 17, 2020
Like Nadal, four-time champion Novak Djokovic is in the hunt for a record 36th Masters 1000 title. On Friday, he meets compatriot Filip Krajinovic for a place in his 14th straight quarter-final in Rome.
Djokovic retired after losing the first set in the pair’s only prior ATP Head2Head meeting in Belgrade a decade ago. The top seed breezed past wild card Salvatore Caruso on Wednesday while World No. 29 Krajinovic backed up his defeat of #NextGenATP No. 16 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime with a win over Italian qualifier Marco Cecchinato.
ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY 18 SEPTEMBER 2020
CENTRALE start 11:00 am
 Matteo Berrettini v [WC] Stefano Travaglia
Not Before 1:00 pm
 Novak Djokovic v Filip Krajinovic
Not Before 7:00 pm
Dusan Lajovic v  Rafael Nadal
PIETRANGELI start 11:00 am
Ugo Humbert v  Denis Shapovalov
Not Before 5:00 pm
[Q] Lorenzo Musetti v [Q] Dominik Koepfer
Not Before 7:00 pm
GRAND STAND ARENA start 11:00am
 Grigor Dimitrov v [WC] Jannik Sinner
Not Before 2:00 pm
Casper Ruud v Marin Cilic
 Diego Schwartzman v Hubert Hurkacz
Click here to view the full Internazionali BNL d’Italia Friday schedule.