After a surprise summer loss last year to Denis Shapovalov, Rafael Nadal gained revenge on his surface, slamming the Canadian 6-4, 6-1 to reach the Rome Masters quarterfinals.
Nadal had lost last week in the Madrid quarters while Shapovalov made the semifinals, and had beaten the Spaniard last year in Canada. But Rafa road his forehand and lost just five points on serve en route to an easy win.
“It was a solid match for me,” said Nadal. “I started with some mistakes on the return. But with my serve, I didn’t lose many points. At the beginning, I really think that he was serving big. I got the break in the 3-all. And then the match changed… He probably stopped to serve that big a little bit, and I was a little bit more relaxed.”
Seeking an 8th Rome title, ahead will be Italian bad boy Fabio Fognini who bested Peter Gojowczyk 6-4, 6-4.
Nadal leads Fognini 10-3 winning their last five, but Italian does have two clay wins over Rafa back in 2015.
“It’ll be a match against a great player, with a lot of talent,” said Nadal. “I know I have to play well, to keep having chances and keep going in the tournament. I hope to be ready to make that happen, to play at the right level and to be competitive.”
Defending champion Alexander Zverev won his 11th straight match but had to work really hard to beat Kyle Edmund needing eight match points in the second set tiebreaker to win it 7-5, 7-6(11).
“I’m just happy that I found a way in both sets, at the end of the sets, and I’m through in two sets. Being able to play another quarter-final of a Masters event is great,” Zverev said.
Zverev, who hold streak came to an end in the first set at 65, had won his last 22 sets. He’ll go up against David Goffin tomorrow in the quarterfinals. Goffin got through when Juan Martin del Potro had to retire at 6-2, 4-5 with a left leg injury he sought treatment for earlier in the match.
“I was worried about that so I decided to stop the game at the end of the second set to see the doctor and see what they say,” del Potro said. “I will do all of the exams now and then I will try to make a good decision for the future.”
Another former champion also advanced as Novak Djokovic got past Albert Ramos Vinolas 6-1, 7-5 to reach his first quarterfinal of the year.
“I’m happy. I haven’t had too many matches of this quality of my tennis in the past 12 months,” Djokovic said. “I think this was probably one of the three matches that I played this way in the past 12 months. So, it felt good. And it came at the right time in the place where I love to play, where I get a lot of support… I feel like each match is getting better. So, hopefully, it’s going to continue in this direction.”
Next for Novak will be Kei Nishikori who he just beat in the opening round at Madrid last week.
“It was strange playing Kei in the first round in Madrid. But, it was a very close match,” Djokovic said. “I expect the same tomorrow. I expect a big fight from both of us.”
Djokovic leads the Japanese star 12-2 overall.
The other quarterfinal pits Pablo Carreno Busta against Marin Cilic.
FRIDAY ROME SCHEDULE
CENTRALE Starts At 12:00 Noon
QF 1 Rafael Nadal VS Fabio Fognini
Not Before 2:30 Pm
QF Maria Sharapova VS 5 Jelena Ostapenko
Not Before 4:00 Pm
QF Kei Nishikori VS 11 Novak Djokovic
Not Before 7:30 Pm
QF 1 Simona Halep VS 7 Caroline Garcia
Not Before 9:00 Pm
QF 9 David Goffin VS 2 Alexander Zverev
NEXT GEN ARENA Starts At 12:00 Noon
QF 11 Angelique Kerber VS 4 Elina Svitolina
Not Before 2:00 Pm
QF 10 Pablo Carreno Busta VS 4 Marin Cilic
Not Before 4:30 Pm
QF Anett Kontaveit VS 2 Caroline Wozniacki
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