Nadal Cruises Into Rome Quaterfinal

STARNBERG, September 18, 2020

Nine-time champion Rafael Nadal has secured his berth in the quarterfinals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, his first tournament since February. The No. 2 seed dispatched Serb Dusan Lajovic 6-1, 6-3 in his third-round match under the lights at the Foro Italico in Rome on Friday evening.

Nadal won 73 per cent of his return games to advance in one hour and 30 minutes.

“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,” Nadal said after reaching his 93rd ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal.

[It was] another great evening for me against another good opponent. Can’t complain at all. Much better [than] what I expected.” 

Nadal will next face eighth seeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman, who rallied past Pole Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 after two hours and nine minutes. The Spaniard leads their rivalry 9-0, with seven of those victories coming in straight sets.

Koepfer to challenge Djokovic

Earlier in the day, Dominik Koepfer continued his great run of form by reaching his first quarterfinal at ATP Masters 1000 level. The 26-year-old German emerged victorious from the battle of the qualifiers with Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti, winning 6-4, 6-0. Koepfer capitalized on all of his four break point opportunities to advance after one hour and 10 minutes.

Both players haven shown some excellent performances this week. Eighteen-year-old Musetti stunned three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka in his Rome debut. He followed up with a victory over former World No. 4 Kei Nishikori. After Koepfer saved a match point to deny Alex de Minaur, the 26-year-old scored his first Top 10 win when he saw off Gael Monfils on Thursday.

Koepfer, currently ranked World No. 97, will next challenge top seed Novak Djokovic. The World No. 1 defeated fellow Serbian Filip Krajinovic 7-6(7), 6-3. Djokovic won 53 per cent of the total points played to prevail after two hours and seven minutes.

“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.”