Novak Djokovic at Italian Open

Tanya Simon
May 20, 2019

Top seed and four-time champion Novak Djokovic survived a scare from Diego Schwartzman to set up an Internazionali d'Italia final against Rafael Nadal in Rome.

Before this year Osaka had never made the last eight of any clay tournament, but has now also reached the semi-finals in Stuttgart and quarter-finals in Madrid as she warms up for the second Grand Slam of the season in Paris.

In the tight three-setter, Novak Djokovic was in big trouble in the second set tiebreak, facing two match points on Juan Martin Del Potro's serve at 6-4 and 6-5 in the breaker, but the Serb reeled off four straight points to take it 8-6.

But the 32-year-old Spaniard was clinical on the red clay of the Foro Italico, winning through in 1hr 42min to reach the finalfor the 11th time.

Djokovic has won 13 of the last 16 meetings against Nadal, but his last loss came in last years Italian Open.

Incredibly, it's also their eighth meeting in Rome where Nadal leads 4-3, and that includes his most recent win in the Rome semis past year.

Federer saved all seven break points he faced to beat Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-3, then was to play Borna Coric for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Later, Federer added on Instagram: "The fan reaction and crowd energy during my matches yesterday remind exactly why I am still competing on the ATP Tour". The quarter finals of Internazionali BNL d'Italia saw a match in which both the players performed with the flair they are known for to secure a win and qualification to the next round.

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On the women's side, Karolina Pliskova rallied past former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-2 and will face qualifier Maria Sakkari, who came back to beat Kristina Mladenovic 5-7, 6-3, 6-0. I just played great match, I think.

Osaka says she woke up on Friday not being able to feel her thumb.

"I know what happened last week, and I (am) going to try to do it better tomorrow", Nadal said.

Nadal avenged his defeat to the 20-year-old Greek at the same stage of the Madrid Open a week ago as he looked to be returning to form ahead of this month's French Open.

Though it was not taken, a magnificent cross-court forehand created another which led to a succession of exchanges of serve, culminating in another break from Federer to seal the set.

"She's very hard to play in that sense because she has a big serve, she has big shots, but she's also backing it up withbeing incredibly astute on court".

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

"I think she's very talented". Equally the second set, as well.

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