Nadal, Djokovic advance; Federer and Osaka withdraw injured

Italy_Tennis_Italian_Open_76136 Japan's Naomi Osaka returns the ball during her match against Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Thursday, May, 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
APTOPIX_Italy_Tennis_Italian_Open_45130 Roger Federer of Switzerland serves the ball to Borna Cedric of Croatia at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Thursday, May 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Italy_Tennis_Italian_Open_18542 Switzerland's Roger Federer greets the spectators after winning his match against Portugal's Joao Sousa at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Thursday, May, 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Italy_Tennis_Italian_Open_09246 A spectator watches as Rafael Nadal of Spain returns the ball to Fernando Velasco of Spain during a quarterfinal match at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Friday, May 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Italy_Tennis_Italian_Open_69374 Japan's Kei Nishikori looks down during the quarterfinal match against Argentina's Diego Schwartzman at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Friday, May, 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Italy_Tennis_Italian_Open_55144 Argentina's Diego Schwartzman returns the ball during his quarterfinal match against Japan's Kei Nishikori at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Friday, May, 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
APTOPIX_Italy_Tennis_Italian_Open_92649 Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina bites the net during his quarterfinal match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia, at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Friday, May 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Italy_Tennis_Italian_Open_97748 Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after winning a point during his quarterfinal match against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina, at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Friday, May 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
APTOPIX_Italy_Tennis_Italian_Open_60501 Rafael Nadal of Spain returns the ball to Fernando Verdasco of Spain during their quarterfinal match at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Friday, May 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
APTOPIX_Italy_Tennis_Italian_Open_15392 Rafael Nadal of Spain eyes the ball as he returns it to Fernando Velasco of Spain during a quarterfinal match at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Friday, May 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Italy_Tennis_Italian_Open_19212 Fernando Verdasco of Spain returns the ball to Rafael Nadal of Spain during a quarterfinal match at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Friday, May 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
APTOPIX_Italy_Tennis_Italian_Open_74719 Japan's Kei Nishikori strikes a forehand during his quarterfinal match against Argentina's Diego Schwartzman at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Friday, May, 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Italy_Tennis_Italian_Open_90061 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic returns the ball to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during a quarterfinal match at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Friday, May 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Italy_Tennis_Italian_Open_71585 Maria Sakkari, of Greece, returns the ball to Kristina Mladenovic, of France, during a quarterfinal match at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Friday, May 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Italy_Tennis_Italian_Open_06285 Japan's Naomi Osaka leaves after meeting the media at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Friday, May, 17, 2019. Top-ranked Naomi Osaka withdrew from her Italian Open quarterfinal due to a right hand injury on Friday. It wasn't immediately clear how serious the injury was, or if it will affect Osaka's status for the French Open, which starts in nine days. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Italy_Tennis_Italian_Open_89052 Japan's Naomi Osaka shows her hands as she meets the journalists at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Friday, May, 17, 2019. Top-ranked Naomi Osaka withdrew from her Italian Open quarterfinal due to a right hand injury on Friday. It wasn't immediately clear how serious the injury was, or if it will affect Osaka's status for the French Open, which starts in nine days. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Italy_Tennis_Italian_Open_22078 Japan's Naomi Osaka meets the journalists at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Friday, May, 17, 2019. Top-ranked Naomi Osaka withdrew from her Italian Open quarterfinal due to a right hand injury on Friday. It wasn't immediately clear how serious the injury was, or if it will affect Osaka's status for the French Open, which starts in nine days. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
(1/17)

ROME (AP) — Rafael Nadal put away Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-0 at the Italian Open on Friday to reach the semifinals after conceding only six games in his six sets of tennis at the tournament.

Yet he ought to be a little nervous.

Nadal has fallen in the semifinals of his last three tournaments — all on his favored clay. And next up is Stefanos Tsitsipas, whom Nadal lost to in Madrid last week.

“I know what happened last week, and I (am) going to try to do it better tomorrow,” Nadal said. “I have to hold the level or increase a little bit more. If that happens, I (am) going to have my chances. The good thing is during the last month my feeling is every week was better than the previous one.”

Tsitsipas, 20, is up to No. 7 in the rankings.

“Every year, we make (a) prediction with the team which player is going to be at the top 10 at the end of the season,” Nadal said. “I put Tsitsipas there. … He started even better than what I (expected). He deserves to be where he is now.”

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic outlasted Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4 in an entertaining slugfest that lasted more than three hours and finished after 1 a.m. local time at the Foro Italico.

Djokovic saved a match point in the second-set tiebreaker and was frustrated at times, receiving a warning for slamming his racket to the clay early in the third. But the Serb regained his composure and closed it out by serving an ace on his first match point.

Djokovic next faces Diego Schwartzman, who beat Kei Nishikori for the first time in four tries, 6-4, 6-2, to reach his first Masters Series semifinal.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer and top-ranked Naomi Osaka withdrew before their quarterfinals because of injuries.

Federer reported a right leg injury ahead of his match against Tsitsipas, and Osaka said she’d mysteriously woken up with a sore right hand ahead of her scheduled match against Kiki Bertens.

On the women’s side, Karolina Pliskova rallied past former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-2 and will face qualifier Maria Sakkari, who came back to beat Kristina Mladenovic 5-7, 6-3, 6-0.

Bertens, who won the Madrid Open last week, will face Johanna Konta, who beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

Although Osaka won both of her matches on Thursday in straight sets, Federer, 37, had to labor for more than 2 ½ hours to overcome Borna Coric in his second time on court.

Federer said after beating Coric that he slid on a wet line and his leg “was hurting a little bit.”

“I am disappointed that I will not be able to compete today. I am not 100 percent physically and, after consultation with my team, it was determined that I not play,” Federer said. “Rome has always been one of my favorite cities to visit and I hope to be back next year.”

Later, Federer wrote on Instagram: “The fan reaction and crowd energy during my matches yesterday remind exactly why I am still competing on the ATP Tour.”

It’s only the fourth time in Federer’s career he has had a walkover loss, the ATP Tour said, adding the 20-time Grand Slam champion has never retired in 1,465 matches.

Osaka couldn’t immediately say how serious her injury is or if it will affect her status for Roland Garros, which starts in nine days. She had yet to see a doctor, but when she held her hand up for reporters, it was clearly swollen.

“I woke up this morning and couldn’t really move my thumb,” Osaka said. “I tried to practice and grip my racket but I couldn’t, and I kept feeling this pain when I tried to move my hand in different directions.”

Osaka’s win on Thursday guaranteed she will remain No. 1 going into the French Open.

“I didn’t feel anything yesterday. That’s why I’m kind of confused right now because I literally woke up in the morning and couldn’t move my thumb,” Osaka said. “So I was like, ‘Maybe I slept on it and maybe it will go away.’ But it didn’t.”

Osaka also withdrew before a semifinal in Stuttgart, Germany, last month due to an abdominal injury, and she retired from her previous meeting with Bertens at last year’s WTA Finals with a leg injury.

“I feel like the ab thing could have been helped, but this one I don’t think I could have helped it because I don’t know what caused it,” Osaka said. “I don’t know why I have it.”

___

More AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

___

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AndrewDampf

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up