Rafael Nadal: I am going to do better
Nadal determined to avenge his Madrid Open defeat against Tsitsipas after overcoming compatriot Verdasco 6-4, 6-0 to sweep into semi-finals
Defending champion Rafael Nadal swept past fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco yesterday to set up a revenge clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Italian Open semi-finals, admitting the young Greek has long been his tip to make the big time in 2019.
The eight-time Rome champion came through 6-4, 6-0 against Verdasco and next meets Tsitsipas, 20, who shocked him at the Madrid Open semi-final last week. The Greek advanced after Roger Federer - returning to the Rome clay for the first time since 2016 - retired with a right leg injury before their match. Nadal, 32, seeded second, advanced to his fourth straight semi-final, but has not managed to go further on clay this season, ahead of his bid for a 12th French Open title at Roland Garros, starting on May 26.
"After a lot of years here, I know what happened last week, and I'm going to try to do it better," said 17-time Grand Slam winner Nadal. "It's good news. I have been able to be back again in the semi-finals. Another three straight victories [in Rome]. Of course you talk with the team about every match, every condition, every win or every loss. But being honest, I know what happened and I'm going to try to do it better tomorrow. What happened in Monte Carlo happened. What happened in Barcelona happened. What happened in Madrid happened. Here we are. We are in Rome. That's a different event."
Earlier, Argentina's Diego Schwartzman cruised past Japan's Kei Nishikori in straight sets to advance to the semi-finals on Thursday. Schwartzman, 26, won 6-4, 6-2 in 87 minutes in the quarter-final for his first win against former US Open finalist Nishikori, the sixth seed, in Rome.
The 24th-ranked one-time French Open quarter-finalist has not dropped a set so far on the red clay 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.
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