DEFENDING champion, Rafael Nadal, swept past fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco to book his place in the semifinals of the Italian Open yesterday.
The eight-time Rome champion came through 6-4, 6-0 in 1hr 38min to set up a clash with Greek eighth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in the final.
Roger Federer’s withdrawal with a right leg injury earlier in the day had handed Tsitsipas a ticket to the last four.
The 32-year-old Nadal, seeded second, is bidding for his first clay-court title this season before chasing a 12th French Open crown at Roland Garros starting on May 26.
Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman cruised past Japan’s Kei Nishikori in straight sets to advance to the semifinals.
Schwartzman, 26, won 6-4, 6-2 in 87 minutes in the quarterfinal for his first win against former US Open finalist Nishikori, the sixth seed, in Rome.
The 24th-ranked one-time French Open quarterfinalist has not dropped a set so far on the red clay of the Foro Italico and next faces either world No 1 Novak Djokovic or compatriot Juan Martin del Potro for a place in the final. World No 7 Nishikori paid for a string of unforced errors, with 28 in total, double that of Schwartzman.
This year’s French Open gets underway on May 26 in Roland Garros. — SuperSport