Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal both overcame tough challenges to reach the Italian Open semifinals. But both will need to be at their best once again to reach the title-match in Rome. Will they be able to set up a 54th meeting or will their opponents prove too strong?
ATP Italian Open Semifinal Predictions
Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas
Head-to-head: Nadal leads 3-1
A manic Thursday, during which the majority of the draw were required to play twice, took its toll on Switzerland’s Roger Federer, who was forced to withdraw with a right leg injury. That sent Stefanos Tsitsipas, who last week bested Rafael Nadal in the last four in Madrid, into his second straight Masters 1000 semifinal. But Nadal has looked back to his dominant best at the Italian Open. So far the Spaniard has lost just six games in three matches, beating Jeremy Chardy 6-0 6-1, Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-1 6-0 and Fernando Verdasco 6-4 6-0.
But Tsitsipas, who is equipped with a punishing forehand and soft hands at the net, has also impressed so far in the Italian capital. The young gun will also surely have benefited from a day off after Federer’s withdrawal. He looked sharp in defeating the Italians, Jannik Sinner and Fabio Fognini, prior to Federer’s withdrawal. That said, Nadal, who has yet to lift a clay-court title this season, will surely be hungrier than ever for a trophy after a disappointing period on the red dirt. Expect him to gain revenge for his defeat in Madrid by edging out the Greek after a close contest.
Prediction: Nadal in three
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Novak Djokovic vs Diego Schwartzman
Head-to-head: Djokovic leads 2-0
The world #1 struggled to stand up to the formidable power of Juan Martin del Potro early on in their quarterfinal clash at the Italian Open. But Djokovic managed to raise his level and, after saving two match points in the second set with some gutsy play, the Serbian was able to take the match the distance. He had to cope with more del Potro pressure early on in the decider, but broke through in the fifth game, going on to seal a 4-6 7-6 6-4 win.
Having disappointed during the Sunshine Double and in Monte Carlo, Djokovic has managed to continue the impressive form that took him to the Madrid Open title in Rome. The Argentine #1 del Potro gave him plenty of trouble with his powerful forehand, but ultimately lacked the necessary consistency. Schwartzman, though likely to give little away, lacks the options in attack required to pin Djokovic back. Thus whilst it has been an excellent tournament for the Argentinian, expect him to come up short against the world’s best.
Prediction: Djokovic in two
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