For the second straight week Roger Federer went right to the edge of elimination, saving 2 match points to Borna Coric 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(7).
Because of the Wednesday washout, nearly all of the top players were forced to win two matches today to make the quarterfinal.
Federer earlier cruised past Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-3 and was far from his best against the Croat. Coric broke the Swiss twice in the first, but felt the nerves late in the second.
And Coric jumped ahead 5-2 in the breaker then served for it at 6-4 but only managed one of the next five points in front of a thrilled crowd on Grandstand.
“It was very tight. I got very lucky again today already like in Madrid,” said Federer referring to his win over Gael Monfils last week. “It’s nice to get lucky I guess sometimes. I’ve lost a lot of heartbreakers throughout the years so it’s nice to win these and the atmosphere was fantastic. People were going crazy. It’s exactly how you want the atmosphere to be.”
To win his first Rome title, the 37-year-old Federer would have to win five matches in four days.
Tomorrow, Federer resumes his rivalry against the very in-form Greek Stefanos Tstisipas. The 20-year-old improved to 10-1 in his last 11 with straight set wins today over Italians Jannik Sinner and Fabio Fognini.
“He’s considered the legend of our sport. He’s very much respected. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be twice more difficult than today. He likes to serve-and-volley. He has a lot of variety in his game. I really don’t know what to expect from him,” Tsitsipas said. “I expect he’s going to obviously try to take the ball early. I think with my fighting spirit and mentality, if I’m in the zone tomorrow, comfortable, I think I can do something.”
Former champions Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic both cruised in their two wins. Nadal, an 8-time Rome winner, looked downright ruthless beating Jeremy Chardy 6-0, 6-1 then Nikolaz Basilashvili 6-1, 6-0. That’s two games dropped in four sets!
“Playing two matches is a very dangerous day. I was able to manage it well,” Nadal said. “I played well, especially I think better in the afternoon than the morning. Yeah, [I’m] happy about that level in the afternoon.”
Up next will be Fernando Verdasco who reached his first Masters quarters in almost 18 months with excellent wins over Dominic Thiem and then Karen Khachanov.
“Today obviously it was a hard day at the office, but a hard day in a really good way. I played six sets, but I won both matches. I won against Thiem, who is No. 4 in the world. For me, top three for sure on clay. Then Khachanov, he is also 11 or 12 or 13 in the world. Super tough player, too,” Verdasco said. “I’m so happy about it. I’m so happy about the level that I played today and how I performed today.”
After the loss, Thiem was none to pleased with how the tournament kept players around Wednesday during the washout.
— Rossana (@Rossana_Capo) May 16, 2019
Novak Djokovic also had an easy day with wins over Denis Shapovalov by 6-1, 6-3 and then Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-0.
The four-time Rome champ will now meet Juan Martin del Potro who defeated David Goffin and then Casper Ruud who earned a third set default from Nick Kyrgios earlier in the day.
“[Del Potro’s] had also two comfortable matches today, didn’t seem to spend too much time on the court. Of course, he probably prefers because of style of play hard court more. He played equally well throughout his career on clay,” Djokovic said. “With that serve and forehand, it doesn’t really matter what surface you play on. It’s quite a weapon that he has.
“It’s going to be a great challenge. We had battles throughout our careers, last one in US Open final. I love him really as a person. He’s a lovely guy, really nice guy. We get along very well. I respect him a lot as a player.”
Kei Nishikori also won two matches beating Taylor Fritz in straight then needing three to eliminate Jan-Lennard Struff. He’ll now meet Diego Schwartzman who was a winner over Albert Ramos-Vinolas and then Matteo Berrettini.
Six of the Top 8 seeds made the quarterfinals.
FRIDAY ROME SCHEDULE
Centrale 12:00 Noon
QF 1 Naomi Osaka v 6 Kiki Bertens
Not Before 2:30 Pm
QF Fernando Verdasco v 2 Rafael Nadal
Not Before 4:00 Pm
QF 8 Stefanos Tsitsipas v 3 Roger Federer
Not Before 7:30 Pm
QF (Q) Kristina Mladenovic v (Q) Maria Sakkari
Not Before 9:00 Pm
QF 1 Novak Djokovic v 7 Juan Martin del Potro
Grandstand 11:00 Am
QF 6 Raven KlaasenMichael Venus v Maximo GonzalezHoracio Zeballos
Not Before 1:30 Pm
QF Diego Schwartzman v 6 Kei Nishikori
Followed By / WTANB End Of WTA QF2
QF Marketa Vondrousova v Johanna Konta
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