Djokovic and Nadal to meet in Rome final, Konta faces Pliskova

Tanya Simon
May 20, 2019

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates winning the Italian Open final against Serbia's Novak Djokovic as they pose with their respective victor and runner up trophies in Rome May 19, 2019.

The build-up of fatigue was too much for world No 1 Djokovic against long-time rival Nadal as he lost 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 to miss out on the chance for back-to-back titles after winning in Madrid the previous week.

Adding to a very consistent year from the 2016 U.S. Open runner-up, the victory will move Pliskova up to No. 2 in the rankings and makes her one of the contenders for the French Open, which starts next weekend.

Nadal's 6-0 opening set was the first bagel between the two in now 144 total sets.

Yet although Nadal came away with the Masters 1000 title in Rome, Hantuchova felt more optimistic about Djokovic's French Open prospects.

After losing in the semi-finals of three straight clay-court tournaments, Nadal admitted this was a big statement ahead of Roland Garros.

His clash in the final four also came just 24 hours after a thrilling three-hour victory over Juan Martin del Potro.

"But, as I said, for me I don't want to talk about Grand Slams now".

"Nadal, number one favourite, without a doubt, then everyone else", said Djokovic of his predictions for Roland Garros.

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If I play better, I know I'm going to have chances to be in finals and to win semifinal matches, " Nadal said.

"During the last couple of weeks, every day and every week have been better". After that semi final, what an effort.

In women's semifinal action on Saturday at the Italian Open, Johanna Konta of the United Kingdom rallied past Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 and Czech Karolina Pliskova, the world No.7, defeated Greece's Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-4.

Konta, ranked 42, fought back from a set down to seal victory on her fourth match point against Madrid Open victor Kiki Bertens 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 after nearly three hours to set-up a Sunday final clash with Pliskova.

Speaking to reporters later, Djokovic said, "I was just running out of fuel a little bit today".

The Serb eventually clinched the second set 6-4 courtesy of some unforced errors from Nadal and ensure a third set, and it seemed as though a looming crisis had been averted.

"I've been through some tough moments after Indian Wells". He's been playing some terrific tennis throughout the entire week.

In the second set, Pliskova used a swinging forehand volley putaway to break for a 4-3 lead and never looked back. Prior to that, they met at Wimbledon in 2018 for a five-set instant classic, which Djokovic also won.

"Before the tournament, I was not super confident", said Pliskova, a 2017 French Open semi-finalist. "I have the greatest respect for him".

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