Sun, May 13, 2007 - Page 24 News List

Nadal sweeps into semis with straight-sets victory

AWESOME The Spanish star stayed on course for his third successive Foro Italico title in Rome with a comfortable win against his Serbian opponent

AFP , ROME

Rafael Nadal hits a return to Novak Djokovic during their match at the Rome Masters tennis tournament in Rome's Foro Italico on Friday. Nadal beat Novak Djokovic 6-2, 6-3 for his 75th consecutive win on clay, matching John McEnroe's streak for most victories on one surface.

PHOTO: AP

Spanish second seed Rafael Nadal swept into the Rome Masters semi-finals with a ruthless 6-2, 6-3 win over up-and-coming Serb Novak Djokovic on Friday.

Victory for the world number two extended his record winning streak on clay to 75 matches and set up a last four meeting with fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko.

Fifth seed Djokovic, who leads the ATP with 33 wins, was the last player to beat Nadal having won their hardcourt Miami quarter-final on March 29.

But reigning Rome champion Nadal is a different proposition on clay and the Serbian 19-year-old, winner of three ATP titles this year, rarely troubled the Mallorcan left-hander.

Nadal has triumphed here for the past two years and is aiming to become the first player to win the Foro Italico event three times in a row.

The 20-year-old Spaniard's task was made easier when world number one Roger Federer, whom he beat in last year's Rome final, was knocked out in the third round by Italian wild card Filippo Volandri.

Nadal, whose last defeat on clay was way back in April, 2005 against Russian Igor Andreev in the Valencia quarter-finals, insisted his victory over Djokovic was not as easy as it looked.

"Djokovic is a difficult opponent and he made me work hard for the win, but I was more consistent" he said. "I played at a high level and I gave 100 percent on every point."

Davydenko fought back from a set down to beat Spanish seventh seed Tommy Robredo 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the first quarter-final of the day.

Davydenko, 25, put his recovery down to his superior fitness.

"It was really difficult for me at the start because Robredo played some superb tennis and had me running all over the place," said the Russian world number four. "But in the second set he started to tire while I got stronger."

Volandri, ranked 53rd in the world, continued his amazing run by defeating Czech 12th seed Tomas Berdych in straight sets to reach his first Masters Series semi-final in 26 attempts where he will face Chilean sixth seed Fernando Gonzalez, who beat Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela 6-3, 6-4.

"It's my first semi and to do it in Rome, well I couldn't have asked for more," said the 25-year-old, the first Italian to reach the last four at the Foro Italico since Adriano Panatta in 1978.

The claycourt Rome Masters is a warm-up for the French Open, the second Grand Slam of the year, which starts on May 27.

This story has been viewed 2614 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top