Rafael Nadal eases through to Italian Open semi-finals with victory over Fernando Verdasco
By Josh Gorton
Last Updated: 17/05/19 4:41pm
Rafael Nadal eased through to the Italian Open semi-finals courtesy of a straight sets win over compatriot Fernando Verdasco on Friday.
Nadal, who is still searching for his first clay-court title of 2019, sealed his place in the semi-finals after defeating his fellow Spaniard 6-4 6-0 in 98 minutes.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion now meets eighth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the last four, in a repeat of their semi-final clash in Madrid.
Tsitsipas defeated Nadal on his home turf last week, inflicting the Spaniard's third successive semi-final elimination on clay this season.
The Greek youngster was due to face Roger Federer in Friday's quarter-finals, but Federer was forced to withdraw from the tournament with a leg injury.
Nadal played twice on Thursday after play was backed up due to Wednesday's washout, although he wasted little energy, dropping just two games across the entire day.
The eight-time Rome champion thrashed Jeremy Chardy 6-0 6-1 before quickly dispatching Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-1 6-0 to set up his clash against Verdasco.
However, Nadal fell 2-0 behind on Friday and was forced to save a break point to prevent a 3-0 deficit.
The 32-year-old rallied to level, before surviving three break points at 4-4 in the opening set.
This proved decisive as Nadal didn't lose a single game from this point onwards, closing out the opener and wrapping up the second in just 36 minutes to confirm his semi-final berth.
Nadal, who lost to Fabio Fognini in Monte Carlo and Dominic Thiem in Barcelona, has won a clay-court title in each of the last 15 seasons and he'll be desperate for revenge against Tsitsipas.
Elsewhere, Argentina's world number 24 Diego Schwartzman secured his place in the semi-finals with a 6-4 6-2 win over Kei Nishikori in one hour 28 minutes - his first win over the Japanese star in four attempts.
Schwartzman will face his fellow countryman Juan Martin del Potro or world number one Novak Djokovic for a place in Sunday's final, with Djokovic and Del Potro set to collide on Friday evening.
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