Nadal, Djokovic Power Into Rome QFs; Dimitrov v Shapovalov
by Staff | September 18th, 2020, 11:08 pm

Tournament favorites Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic both powered into the Rome Masters quarterfinals on Friday.

With a potential Monday final looming between the two, Nadal jumped out quick then fought off Dusan Lajovic 6-1, 6-3. The Serb got a break back in the second but Rafa returned to a 15th Rome quarter.

“I played at I think a very positive level of tennis. Of course it needs to keep improving. I need to keep working on a couple of things that are not coming automatically. But I can’t ask for more,” said Nadal who won 10 of the first 11 games. “Another great evening for me against another good opponent. Can’t complain at all. Much better what I expected.”

Next for Rafa is Diego Schwartzman who dodged Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

“Always has been very tough and tricky matches against him,” said Nadal who leads the Argentine 9-0. “I know I have to play very well if I want to have chances and that’s what I’m going to try.”

Djokovic had a much tougher time, fighting past friend and countryman Filip Krajinovic 7-6(7), 6-3. Krajinovic led 4-1 in the breaker before Djokovic came back to take an almost 90-minute opening set.

“It was definitely one of the longest sets I think I have ever played,” said Djokovic. “Never easy, I think, emotionally to play against someone that is one of my best friends for many years… I think the first set could have gone a different way, as well.

“Fortunately for me it went my way, and that allowed me to swing through the ball a bit more in the second set. Maybe physically and mentally he dropped a level, and I used my opportunities and capitalized to win in straight sets.”

Qualifier Dominik Koepfer, who ended the run of Italian teen Lorenzo Musetti, is ahead for Djokovic.

Denis Shapovalov kept his nice clay campaign going outlasting Ugo Humbert in three sets 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4. He’ll meet Grigor Dimitrov in a good one. Dimitrov also beat an Italian teen in Jannik Sinner 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Top ranked Italian Matteo Berrettini will collide with Casper Ruud.

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10 Comments for Nadal, Djokovic Power Into Rome QFs; Dimitrov v Shapovalov

Fed Says:

What a choke by Diego. Twice led by a break and even served for the match.

FedExpress Says:

Serving the 2nd time for the match.

If he cant do it he should retire for good

Daniel Says:

Wow, did not see that coming. But he was playing great talong everything on the rise and not missing the court, a bunch of lucly shota landed in, on Nadal’s foot.

Very solid match.

Path clear for Djoko Masters record and entering RG undefeated for the year, even with USO fiasco.

chrisford1 Says:

So few have beaten Nadal on clay that it is a career highlight to most who do. Diego is always a pesky, frustrating little devil, especially on clay. Very happy for him.
Popcorn time for Team Djokovic, when they break out the tape of the Nadal-Schwartzman match should Novak face Diego, and of course if a Nadal match happens at the FO, to see how another guy and what tactics he used worked against Nadal on clay. Maybe just for the pure fun of seeing Rafa go down on clay.
And though Vika Azarenka is out, props to her for getting a double bagel on #3 ranked Sofia Kenin the match before. If Azarenka can do that level of play at the FO, she has title chances.

skeezer Says:

Rafa didn’t seem to dominate with his FH like he used to do. He had his moments but Diego seemed to have no problem dealing with it unless Rafa hit an out right winner. Hope this is not a trend for him, as without his dominate FH being dominate he will go down easily. Also Rafa did not take advantage of his opponents relatively weak serve either. Diego has become a tough out on this surface ( see last year ) but Djoker would feast on Diego’s serve imo if they meet.

Wog Boy Says:

Have you seen Nole in Rome, he is playing crap, it was so frustrating watching him against Filip and particularly against the #97 German last night.
If he doesn’t up his game he is not winning Rome, maybe not even SF against Ruud who was really good against Berrettini last night.
Both, Diego and Shapovalov, are fast and taking the ball on the rise, hitting hard, not giving much time to opponents, even on clay.
I still remember last year SF in Rome against Diego when Nole just scraped through.
It looks to me that Nole is not over USO, not yet.

Wog Boy Says:

Something doesn’t add up with Rafa.
I haven’t seen the match, but looking at the stats that wasn’t Rafa.
To see Rafa on slow Rome clay to serve 43% first serve, to win 48% of the first and 44% of the second serve, to make 30 UF errors in 2 sets and to be broken 5 times in 2 sets and lose in 2 sets?!
That’s not Rafa, no offence to Diego.
I just hope that he is not injured? The other option is that the pause was too long and he needs more matches and he, like Nole, needs few tournaments to get in the grove, maybe he made mistake, he should have played USO?

chrisford1 Says:

Have to say I haven’t seen Novak play except in You Tube highlights. Usually I go to a sports bar to see the Italian Open, I don’t subscribe to it. To see a match I want to see. Like last years final. Alas, the sports bar is still closed due to the Wuhan virus. When it is open, it’s a trip watching tennis because….not that I ahem…hang with the shady elements too much, but there are more betters watching the tennis matches than fans sometimes. Some of the betters don’t even know tennis that well and pester others for tips, they get calls wrong…buy beers all around, etc.
Only Novak knows what is in Novak’s mind and sometimes not even he knows. But I swear, though he won’t brag about it, his talent and confidence level are high enough that he seems to deliberately drop a set or play at a lower level in the early rounds, just to get more playing time. But smashing his racket in frustration in the QFs is more a sign he is frustrated by not being able to work his way into top form for the French Open. Yet.
On Rafa, I don’t know. He was just #1, so I am not ready to say he is in decline like Federer is, but it does seem that Rafa cannot sustain a high level throughout the year like he used to. One tournament, he is the Rafa of old. Next one, plays like garbage. Next one, out with some minor injury. Back to Top Rafa after that. I agree with you on the USO, and maybe it was the ruling that locked in 2000 points he didn’t need to bother defending, but everyone wanted him there, and at his age he was over-scared about the Wuhan virus.
I can only imagine that with his OCD, he has some awesome new mask and handwashing rituals at home..

Van Persie Says:

Maybe Rafa waa a bit rusty due to lack of official tennis matches, but Diego played amazing, especially in the 1st set. Amazing performance for him.

As for Nole, he did not impress much yesterday, I hope he will raise his level today. As WB pointed out, maybe he is still not over with what happended in NY, but I think it has also to do with the tramsition on clay. He needs to play today and hopefully tomorrow aswell in order to be ready for the FO.

Telperion Says:

The people doubting Rafa, bear in mind that he’s used to playing on these courts under different conditions. It’s autumn in Europe several months later than the usual, the conditions were extremely different, very humid, and the blazing sun helps Rafa’s game by making the ball bounce higher and faster.

He’s still a beast on clay, but Diego was playing superb tennis and the atmospheric conditions played against Rafa’s game. Besides, Diego is not some unknown player, he’s tough and he’s (and has been before) on the verge of breaking the Top 10. He’s a tough player for anyone when he’s playing well and has made for some tough matches for both Nole and Rafa.

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