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Schwartzman Stuns Nadal In Rome

  • Posted: Sep 19, 2020

Schwartzman Stuns Nadal In Rome

Argentine was 0-9 against the Spaniard before their quarter-final

Nobody beats Diego Schwartzman 10 times in a row. Not even Rafael Nadal.

Schwartzman stunned nine-time Rome champion Nadal 6-2, 7-5 after two hours and four minutes on Saturday evening to reach the semi-finals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. Entering the match, Nadal had won all nine of their ATP Head2Head meetings, including 22 of their 24 sets.

“For sure it’s my best match ever,” Schwartzman said. “I played a few times against the three big champions in tennis. I never beat them until today. I’m very happy.” 

Schwartzman vs. Nadal – Stats

 Stats  Diego Schwartzman  Rafael Nadal
 First-Serve Points Won  64%  48%
 Second-Serve Points Won  58%  44%
 Break Points Saved  3/5  4/9
 Winners  31  21
 Unforced Errors  17  30

The Argentine is into his second ATP Masters 1000 semi-final. Schwartzman reached the last four at this level for the first time last year at the same event. He lost three of his first four matches at the Foro Italico, but has now won seven of his past eight on the Roman clay. He was especially courageous on the backhand side, keeping Nadal from playing his typical overwhelming clay-court tennis.

“It was crazy. Tennis is crazy. Our performance is always crazy. The past three weeks were really bad for me,” Schwartzman said on court after his victory. “Today I played my best tennis. Very similar to Roland Garros against Rafa three years ago and I’m very happy. I was not thinking to beat him really because I was not playing good [lately]. But today I did my best and I’m very happy.” 

Schwartzman played a spectacular match to earn his first victory against Nadal, playing aggressively and emerging victorious in cat-and-mouse points that few opponents win against Nadal, especially on clay.

“I played against him nine times before. Four or five times I was not close, but playing really well and close in the score, feeling well,” Schwartzman said. “I came to the court trying to do the same things and the first set was really, really good for me. I took every chance he gave me.” 

Nadal’s forehand is one of the biggest weapons in tennis, but Schwartzman consistently engaged in cross-court rallies with his backhand, pummeling his two-hander at every opportunity. The second seed only won 48 per cent of his first-serve points, whereas Schwartzman earned 58 per cent of his second-serve points.

“You don’t see this on clay,” Tennis Channel commentator Paul Annacone, former coach of Pete Sampras and Roger Federer, said of Schwartzman’s performance during the second set.

Nadal was trying to win his 10th Internazionali BNL d’Italia title. The legendary lefty falls to 63-7 at the Italian Masters 1000 event. This was his first tournament since the ATP Tour resumed in August.

Schwartzman took a set-and-a-break lead when Nadal hit a forehand drop shot into the net from inside the court. But that was only the first of five consecutive service breaks. The Argentine served for the match at 5-4, but was broken at love by a determined Nadal, who refused to make any unforced errors.

Schwartzman did not get discouraged, earning another chance to serve for the match with a two-part passing shot combination. He let out a roar after smacking a short backhand past a helpless Nadal at the net. This time, Schwartzman converted his opportunity, screaming, “Yeah!” after finishing the match with a forehand drop volley.

“[It was] a super heavy evening in terms of humidity. Conditions out there were much heavier than the previous days in terms of the bounces of the ball.
For me was difficult to push him back. He did a great job,” Nadal said. “I tried hard in the second, but losing serve three times in a row, then you need to [hope] for a miracle. I did twice, but the third one, even if I was 15/30, was not possible.”

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The Argentine will play Canadian lefty Denis Shapovalov on Sunday for a spot in the Rome final, which would be Schwartzman’s first at a Masters 1000. They know each other well, having trained together in the Bahamas before the Western & Southern Open.

“He’s playing really well since we came back in the U.S. He was playing good,” Schwartzman said. “He’s a really good guy… It’s going to be really tough, but I think if I play like today I’m going to have chances.”

Did You Know?
Schwartzman is now 8-28 against Top 10 opponents. If he wins the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, he will crack the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time. If he doesn’t, Shapovalov will accomplish the same feat.

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Shapovalov Earns 100th Win, Reaches Rome SFs

  • Posted: Sep 19, 2020

Shapovalov Earns 100th Win, Reaches Rome SFs

Canadian remains undefeated in ATP Masters 1000 quarter-finals

Denis Shapovalov earned his 100th tour-level win on Saturday in Rome, defeating Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 to reach the semi-finals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

The Canadian is 5-0 in Masters 1000 quarter-finals after eliminating the 2014 Rome semi-finalist in one hour and 51 minutes. Shapovalov is 9-2 since the ATP Tour resumed in August.

“Grigor’s a player I’ve looked up to from juniors. I really love the way he plays,” Shapovalov said on court after his win. “He’s beaten me twice before, so it’s really nice to get the win and it’s a huge step for my career.”

The 21-year-old is on the verge of cracking the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time. He will achieve the feat if Argentine Diego Schwartzman does not lift the trophy at the Foro Italico. Shapovalov will play Schwartzman or nine-time champion Rafael Nadal in the last four.

The 12th seed will be confident after his resilient performance against 15th-seeded Dimitrov. The Bulgarian had won their two previous ATP Head2Head meetings — including one in Rotterdam earlier this year — without losing a set. Dimitrov earned the momentum towards the end of the second set, but Shapovalov battled hard to wrestle it back and advance.

Both players displayed the athleticism and shotmaking skills that make them fan favourites. But Shapovalov proved to be a bit more dynamic than the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion, breaking Dimitrov’s serve five times.

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Shapovalov slipped up in the second set, double faulting to go down 1-3 before earning a ‘boomerang break’ with a wicked backhand slice approach shot. But the Canadian gave the break back again with a forehand approach into the net.

The 2019 Stockholm Open champion showed a lot of positive energy in the third set, consistently yelling, “come on!” after big points. Dimitrov double faulted into the net to give Shapovalov a 2-0 lead in the decider and the Canadian never looked back.

Shapovalov showed no nerves in the back-end of the third set, continuing to play aggressively until the last point. Dimitrov, who won a Masters 1000 title at 2017 Cincinnati, hit a backhand slice into the top of the net to end the match. The lefty believes he has benefitted from reaching the doubles quarter-finals at both Rome and the US Open alongside Rohan Bopanna.

“It’s definitely helping a lot. It’s just improved my net game by so much and honestly I probably have one of the best partners on Tour,” Shapovalov said. “Not only is he an amazing player, but he’s such a good mentor and a really good friend of mine. Rohan’s helped me so much [to] improve in both singles and doubles.”

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Granollers/Zeballos Keep Winning On Clay

  • Posted: Sep 19, 2020

Granollers/Zeballos Keep Winning On Clay

Fourth seeds will face Chardy/Martin for trophy

Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos have reached the final at all four of their clay-court tournaments this year, beating John Peers and Michael Venus 7-6(4), 7-6(5) on Saturday to advance to the championship match at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

The fourth seeds improved to 15-1 on the surface this year, saving five of six break points to advance. Granollers and Zeballos are the only doubles team that has won multiple ATP Tour crowns this year, following back-to-back title runs at the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires and the Rio Open presented by Claro in February. Last week, the Spanish-Argentine duo’s unbeaten 2020 record on the dirt came to an end in the Generali Open final.

Granollers and Zeballos are attempting to lift their second ATP Masters 1000 trophy as a team. In their team debut, they captured the 2019 Coupe Rogers trophy in Montreal.

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The pair will face Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin for the title. The Frenchmen rallied from a set down to defeat Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-7(5), 6-4, 10-4.

Chardy and Martin have survived three consecutive Match Tie-breaks to reach their first Masters 1000 final as a team. The unseeded duo have experience of playing in high-profile clay finals. Chardy and Martin reached last year’s Roland Garros championship match.

<a href=Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin are attempting to claim their maiden ATP Masters 1000 trophy as a team.” />

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Medvedev, Tsitsipas Face Tricky Openers In Hamburg

  • Posted: Sep 19, 2020

Medvedev, Tsitsipas Face Tricky Openers In Hamburg

Bautista Agut challenges two-time defending champ in first round

Daniil Medvedev will face a tricky opponent in his first clay-court match of 2020 when he plays Frenchman Ugo Humbert in the opening round of the Hamburg European Open.

The Russian is fresh off his run to the semi-finals of the US Open, but he will have to find his clay feet quickly against an in-form opponent who defeated Kevin Anderson and Fabio Fognini at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. This will be their first ATP Head2Head meeting. The lefty Humbert does well to keep play on his terms, but the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals competitor will have to work hard to finish off points against the top seed.

Medvedev is making his first appearance in Hamburg since 2016 when he was 20. Four years ago, then-World No. 215, Medvedev qualified and reached the second round of the main draw. The top seed will pursue his maiden ATP Tour title on clay. Last year, he made the semi-finals of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

The first seeded player Medvedev could face is 2013 champion Fognini, the sixth seed. The Italian begins his tournament against German wild card Philipp Kohlschreiber.

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Medvedev isn’t the only tournament favourite to face a tough first-round match. Second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas will play British No. 1 Daniel Evans. The Greek won their only previous clash 6-2, 6-3 in Dubai earlier this year.

Evans will make Tsitsipas think hard throughout their match, though. The World No. 33 is not known for his clay-court game, but he uses a great variety of pace and spins to manoeuvre the ball around the court and keep opponents off balance. Both players will be looking to get back on track after losing their opening match in Rome.

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One of the matches to watch in the first round is between fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut and two-time defending champion Nikoloz Basilashvili. It will be a classic match-up of offence against defence, as Basilashvili will try to blast his way through the always stout defences of Bautista Agut. The other seeded player in their quarter is fifth seed Andrey Rublev, who opens against a qualifier.

The Spaniard leads their ATP Head2Head series 2-1, with the Georgian winning their most recent match in Dubai last year. This will be Bautista Agut’s first clay-court match since the ATP Tour resumed in August. Basilashvili will try to improve his 10-1 record in Hamburg.

#NextGenATP Canadian star Felix Auger-Aliassime will play Italian Lorenzo Sonego, who defeated Basilashvili in Rome. The winner will play seventh seed Diego Schwartzman — who plays Rafael Nadal in the Rome quarter-finals — or Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Third seed Gael Monfils will try to earn his first victory of the ATP Tour’s resumption when he battles wild card Yannick Hanfmann. The German reached his second tour-level final last week in Kitzbühel, where he was a qualifier.

Former World No. 4 Kei Nishikori will face a tough test against Chilean Cristian Garin, who has won all four of his ATP Tour titles on clay. Eighth seed Karen Khachanov will try to battle through an all-power match against German Jan-Lennard Struff. Their two ATP Head2Head meetings have gone to a deciding set, with each man winning once.

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Djokovic Ends Koepfer’s Run In Rome

  • Posted: Sep 19, 2020

Djokovic Ends Koepfer’s Run In Rome

Serbian to face Ruud in semi-finals

Novak Djokovic advanced to his 11th Internazionali BNL d’Italia semi-final on Saturday, beating Dominik Koepfer 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

The four-time champion won 68 per cent of second-serve return points (27/40) and created 21 break points en route to recording his 29th victory in 30 matches this year. Djokovic, who has reached the last eight in Rome each year since 2007, improves to 11-3 in Rome quarter-finals. The Serbian has now won seven straight quarter-final matches at the ATP Masters 1000 event, dating back to his loss to Tomas Berdych at this stage in 2013.

Djokovic is now two wins away from lifting a record-breaking 36th Masters 1000 crown. The 33-year-old tied Rafael Nadal’s tally of 35 titles at the level by completing his second Career Golden Masters at the Western & Southern Open last month.

Koepfer was making his main draw debut at a Masters 1000 event this week. The German saved one match point to earn his first ATP Tour victory on clay against Alex de Minaur and clinched his first Top 10 victory against Gael Monfils in the second round. Koepfer is the first qualifier to reach the quarter-finals at this event since Juan Monaco and Mischa Zverev in 2009.

Djokovic will be face Casper Ruud for a spot in the championship match. The Norwegian overcame fourth seed Matteo Berrettini 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) in just under three hours to reach his first Masters 1000 semi-final.

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Djokovic started quickly on Centrale, attacking Koepfer’s backhand and dictating rallies with his forehand to earn a 4-0 lead. But Koepfer responded emphatically, recovering both breaks, as the World No. 1’s level fluctuated. Djokovic quickly settled back into his rhythm on his forehand to clinch the first set and take an early lead in the second set.

Koepfer found a way back into the second set, firing a crosscourt backhand passing shot and showcasing incredible court coverage skills to level the score at 3-3. The German forced a decider with his fourth service break at 5-4, as Djokovic’s level dropped on his forehand side.

After failing to convert three consecutive break points in the opening game of the decider, Djokovic was gifted a love service break at 1-1. The 35-time Masters 1000 titlist served with confidence throughout the third set and regained consistency on his forehand towards the end of the match. Djokovic converted his second match point with a well-placed backhand drop volley.

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Ruud Outlasts Berrettini To Reach Maiden Masters 1000 Semi-final

  • Posted: Sep 19, 2020

Ruud Outlasts Berrettini To Reach Maiden Masters 1000 Semi-final

Norwegian to face Djokovic or Koepfer in last four

Casper Ruud continued his strong 2020 run on clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Saturday, beating fourth seed Matteo Berrettini 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) in Rome.

The Norwegian landed 20 forehand winners to improve to 12-2 on the surface this year after nearly three hours on Pietrangeli. During February’s Golden Swing, Ruud reached two finals from three clay events. The 21-year-old captured his maiden ATP Tour crown in Buenos Aires and finished as a runner-up in Santiago.

Ruud improves to 2-1 in his ATP Head2Head series against the Italian. The Oslo native claimed a straight-sets victory against Berrettini at Roland Garros last year. Berrettini earned his only victory against Ruud two weeks ago at the US Open.

Ruud has played well throughout this week against taller opposition. The 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier upset 6’6” Karen Khachanov in the first round and claimed back-to-back straight-sets victories against 6’3” Lorenzo Sonego and 6’6” Marin Cilic to reach the last eight.

By advancing to the semi-finals, Ruud has improved on his father’s best ATP Masters 1000 run. Christian Ruud reached his only quarter-final at the level at the 1997 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (l. to Corretja).

Berrettini was attempting to become only the second Italian to reach the semi-finals in Rome since 2000. Filippo Volandri, a semi-finalist in 2007, is the only player to achieve the feat this century.

Ruud will aim to reach his first Masters 1000 final when he faces Novak Djokovic or Dominik Koepfer on Sunday. The World No. 34 has not met Djokovic or Koepfer at tour-level.

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Berrettini overpowered Ruud with strong serving and aggressive forehands to establish a 3-1 advantage in the first set. The Italian showcased impressive touch as he attempted to shorten points, with Ruud committing only six unforced errors in the opener. Serving at 5-4, Berrettini moved to the net to close out the first set after 54 minutes.

After failing to convert three break points in the opening set, Ruud took his first opportunity in the second set. The Buenos Aires champion struck multiple forehand winners and took advantage of forehand errors from his opponent en route to a 3-0 lead. Ruud continued to dictate rallies with his forehand and extracted a backhand error from Berrettini to force a deciding set. Ruud fired nine forehand winners in the second set.

Ruud carried his momentum into the third set, breaking serve in the opening game. The Norwegian played with angles to open the court and struck a forehand winner up the line to take the lead for the first time. After falling behind in the score, Berrettini took the initiative and moved to the net to break Ruud for the first time since the opening game of the match.

In the tie-break, Ruud recovered from 2/4 down to claim victory. The Norwegian played with patience from the baseline to extract errors and served well under pressure to earn his 17th victory of the year (17-7).

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Schwartzman Leads The Way On Second-Serve Returns

  • Posted: Sep 19, 2020

Schwartzman Leads The Way On Second-Serve Returns

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers examines how dominant the Argentine is on second-serve returns in his victories

You may have seen the bumper sticker that reads, “the worst day fishing is better than the best day working”. Along the same lines, is your worst day returning second serves still statistically better than your best day returning first serves? 

To be specific, if you looked at your second-serve return performance from only the matches you lost, would the average be higher than your first-serve return win percentage from only the matches you won? The fishing analogy rings true for our sport as well as the worst day returning second serves is still significantly better than the best day returning first serves. 

This Infosys Beyond The Numbers analysis looks at five seasons from 2015-2019 and includes players that have played a minimum of 50 matches. Players in the data set averaged winning 53.3 per cent (173,783/325,771) of second-serve return points when they won their match, with that average dropping down to 44.5 per cent (122,172/274,276) when they lost the match.

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But 44.5 per cent, which is a bad day at the office for second-serve returns, is still significantly superior to 32.3 per cent, which is a great day at the office returning against first serves. The gap is 12.2 per cent, which is essentially night and day.

The following table highlights average points won against first and second serves when players won and lost matches.

Average Points Won When Winning & Losing The Match 2015-2019

 Serve Player Won Match  Player Lost Match 
 First-Serve Return Points Won  32.3%  23.7%
 Second-Serve Return Points Won  53.3%  44.5%

When players were triumphant in their matches, nobody dominated returning serve more in the past five seasons than Diego Schwartzman. Against second serves, the Argentine averaged winning 60 per cent (2713/4524) in matches that he won from 2015-2019, with 23 of his 135 victories above the 70 per cent threshold for second-serve return points won.

Schwartzman was also the leader with first-serve return points won when winning the match at 37.9 per cent (2469/6517). The players, which led the statistical categories when winning and losing matches are listed below.

Winning The Match
• No. 1: First-serve return points won = Diego Schwartzman 37.9% (2469/6517)
• No. 1: Second-serve return points won = Diego Schwartzman 60.0% (2713/4524)

Losing The Match
• No. 1: First-serve return points won = Marton Fucsovics 28.1% (877/3123)
• No. 1: Second-serve return points won = Yoshihito Nishioka 49.8% (767/1541)

Looking at match data through a different lens such as this provides new clarity for coaches and players to identify what matters most to win a match and to better organise their practice court. The first serve is the “big hammer” in our sport and even an outstanding performance returning in this area averages winning only about one in every three points.  

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Why Breaking Nadal’s Serve On Clay Is So Difficult

  • Posted: Sep 19, 2020

Why Breaking Nadal’s Serve On Clay Is So Difficult

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers shows just how tough it is to break Rafael Nadal’s serve in Rome

It is mission almost impossible. Bringing up a break point against Rafael Nadal’s serve is a commendable achievement. 

Good luck converting it, especially when competing on Campo Centrale at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of Nadal saving break points at clay court ATP Masters 1000 events shows he is tougher to break in Rome than Monte Carlo or Madrid. 

Break Points Saved: Clay-Court Masters 1000 Events
• Rome = 74.6% (303/406)
• Monte Carlo = 73.9% (394/533)
• Madrid = 73.4% (298/406) 

Nadal returned to action on Campo Centrale for his first tour-level match in 200 days on Wednesday. He immediately faced break-point after losing the deuce point in his opening service game against Pablo Carreno Busta after failing to take advantage of a 40-0 lead. 

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Nadal has saved 303 break points in Rome in his career, but all you really need to witness is this one break point to know exactly what his primary strategy is in this important moment. Carreno Busta had to weigh up whether Nadal would go with his preferred “can-opener” slicing lefty serve out wide to pull him off the court, or surprise with a body serve or a delivery straight down the T. 

Overall in his career when serving at break point in the Ad court (0-40, 30-40, ad-out) at Masters 1000 clay-court events against right-handers, Nadal has gone with his favourite serve out wide almost twice as often as his next highest option, down the T.

Nadal Career: Serving Break Point At Clay-Court Masters 1000 vs. Right-Handers
• Wide = 53%
• Body = 21%
• T = 26%

Wide is the most likely, and the probability of a wide serve naturally rises the more pressure involved in the moment as it is the most comfortable and reliable serve for Nadal. The first break point faced in 200 days certainly met all the above criteria for a wide serve.

Carreno Busta took up his return position on the point with just his left foot in the alley. To visually shut down the wide serve, it needed to be much wider than that.

Nadal Serving Break Point: Carreno Busta’s Return Position 

Should Carreno Busta have stood wider with both feet in the alley? For the first point of the following game, Nadal’s return location mirrored the position of the break point with a righty serving against a lefty in the deuce court.

Nadal positioned himself there to visually take away the wide slice serve. This in turn attracts more serves to his forehand return.

Nadal Return Position To Take Away A Right-Hander’s Slice Serve

Serving at ad-out, Nadal indeed opted for the highest percentage serve. He sent down a 114mph snarling slice serve out wide. 

Carreno Busta was pulled to his left and was standing with two feet outside the doubles line to make contact with the return. He was now standing closer to the side fence than the singles court and netted the return.

Nadal Serving Break Point: Carreno Busta’s Contact Position 

That was the only break point that Carreno Busta saw for the match, as Nadal raced away to a 6-1, 6-1 victory in 73 minutes. Nadal is shooting for a 10th title in Rome this week. In 67 matches leading into this year’s event, he has not faced a break point in nine matches and has saved all break points faced in 16 matches. 

Converting break point against Nadal on the Roman “terre battue” of Campo Centrale is without doubt one of the toughest tests our sport has to offer.

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Preview: Nadal, Djokovic Lead Push For Rome SF

  • Posted: Sep 19, 2020

Preview: Nadal, Djokovic Lead Push For Rome SF

Top 2 own 13 of past 15 Rome titles

Rafael Nadal flags “a couple of things” he needs to improve as his bid for a 10th Internazionali BNL d’Italia title builds momentum. It could sound alarm bells for No. 8 seed Diego Schwartzman when the pair meets in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

No. 2 seed Nadal conceded just six games total in his first two matches, despite not having played in more than six months. The No. 2 seed holds a perfect 9-0 ATP Head2Head record against the Argentine – including 22 of 24 sets.

The Spaniard backed up his comfortable dismissal of US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta with a 6-1, 6-3 result against Serb Dusan Lajovic on Friday. He has won an impressive 73 per cent (11/15) of his return games to reach his 93rd Masters 1000 quarter-final.

“I need to keep working on a couple of things that are not coming automatically, but I can’t ask for more,” Nadal said following his win over Lajovic. “[It was] another great evening for me against another good opponent. Can’t complain at all. Much better [than] what I expected.”

Most Wins In Rome (Open Era)

Rafael Nadal 63
Novak Djokovic 52
Roger Federer 35
Ilie Nastase 33
Guillermo Vilas 33

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Schwartzman made a deep run in Rome last year, when he reached the semi-finals with straight-sets victories over Kei Nishikori and Matteo Berrettini en route. The 28-year-old rallied from a break down in the final set to edge past Pole Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the third round.

“[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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Nadal and No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic will break their tied record should either win the title in Rome for a 36th Masters 1000 trophy. In an all-Serbian third-round clash, four-time champion Djokovic defeated Filip Krajinovic 7-6(7), 6-3 on Friday to set a quarter-final against German Dominik Koepfer, the first qualifier to advance as far since 2009.

The 33-year-old has now won 28 of his 29 matches this year, including title runs at the Australian Open, Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and Western & Southern Open. Koepfer, No. 97 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, has enjoyed a breakout week and is on a six-match winning streak, including his three victories in the qualifying rounds, in the Italian capital.

Having won through qualifying, he saved a match point to beat Alex de Minaur, then registered his first Top 10 win over Gael Monfils to reach the third round. There he ended the hopes of #NextGenATP Italian qualifier Lorenzo Musetti 6-4, 6-0 on Friday.

Rome QF

An Open Era record-equalling four Italians made it to the Round of 16 in Rome, but only one survived – their highest-ranked, No. 4 seed Berrettini. The 24-year-old eked out a tight 7-6(5), 7-6(1) contest against compatriot Stefano Travaglia. 

Berrettini would become the first Italian man to reach the Rome semi-finals since Filippo Volandri in 2007 with a victory over Norwegian Casper Ruud next. The pair split two prior ATP Head2Head encounters – Ruud a winner on clay at Roland Garros last year and Berrettini a third-round victor in last month’s US Open.

Ruud followed in his father’s footsteps in reaching his maiden Masters 1000 quarter-final on Friday, with a 6-2, 7-6(6) win over 2018 Rome semi-finalist Marin Cilic. Christian Ruud made the 1997 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters quarter-finals. 

A semi-finalist in Rome six years ago, Grigor Dimitrov had to dig deep to end the run of 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion, Jannik Sinner, on Friday. The Bulgarian No. 15 seed rebounded from a set and a break down for a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over the 19-year-old wild card. 

He will carry a 2-0 ATP Head2Head ledger into his quarter-final showdown against No. 12 seed Denis Shapovalov, a player unbeaten in four Masters 1000 quarter-finals. The Canadian avenged January’s ASB Classic loss in Auckland to Ugo Humbert with a 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4 victory on Friday.


CENTRALE start 12:00 pm
WTA Match

Not Before 2:30 pm
[1] Novak Djokovic v [Q] Dominic Koepfer

Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA Match

Not Before 8:30 pm
[8] Diego Schwartzman v [2] Rafael Nadal

PIETRANGELI start 12:00 pm
[4] Matteo Berrettini v Casper Ruud

Not Before 2:00 pm
WTA Match
WTA Match

Not Before 6:00 pm
[12] Denis Shapovalov v [15] Grigor Dimitrov

Click here to view the full Internazionali BNL d’Italia Saturday schedule.

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