Sun, May 19, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Djokovic survives scare as Chan sisters lose

AFP, with staff writer, ROME

Novak Djokovic returns to Juan Martin del Potro in their Internazionali d’Italia men’s singles quarter-final in Rome on Friday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic on Friday saved two match points against former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro to advance to the semi-finals of the Internazionali d’Italia in a three-set thriller, as Taiwan’s Chan sisters yesterday failed to reach the doubles finals.

Despite a spirited comeback in the second set, Chan Hao-ching and Latisha Chan fell to Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands and German Anna-Lena Gronefeld 7-5, 6-7 (6/8), 10-3 in 2 hours, 6 minutes.

Djokovic saved match points in the second set tie-break before winning through 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4, sealing victory with an ace on his first match point after a three-hour battle.

“I had luck in the decisive moments in the second set tiebreak,” the 31-year-old said.

The world No. 9 received treatment on a bloodied big toe after Djokovic leveled one-set all, but he kept up the pressure with Djokovic again needing to save three break points on his serve in the fourth game of the final set before breaking for 3-2 as the momentum swung his way.

The 15-time Grand Slam winner next plays Argentine Diego Schwartzman, who eliminated Japanese sixth seed Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-2.

Meanwhile, Swiss star Roger Federer and women’s world No. 1 Naomi Osaka pulled out injured from the last warmup tournament before the French Open.

Eight-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal eased through 6-4, 6-0 against fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco to set up a rematch with Greek rising star Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in the final.

Tsitsipas advanced after Federer retired with a right leg injury before their game.

It is Nadal’s fourth straight semi-final on clay this season, but he has not managed to go further.

“After a lot of years here, I know what happened last week and I’m going to try to do it better tomorrow,” Nadal said.

Osaka withdrew with a stiff right hand, giving Kiki Bertens a ticket to the semi-final.

“I woke up this morning and I couldn’t really move my thumb,” the 21-year-old said.

“I’m not mad, but between sad and disappointed,” added Osaka, who still hopes to compete at Roland Garros.

Sixth seed Bertens now goes through to meet Britain’s Johanna Konta, who battled past Czech Marketa Vondrousova 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

Federer was playing in the Italian capital to prepare for his return to the French Open for the first time since 2015.

“I am not 100 percent physically and after consultation with my team, it was determined that I not play,” he said.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion had been on court for nearly four hours on Thursday.

The former world No. 1 had been a late addition to the Rome tournament as he sought clay-court practice ahead of his bid to add to his lone French Open title from 2009.

In a battle between former women’s world No. 1s, Karolina Pliskova won through against Victoria Azarenka 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-2.

The Czech fourth seed next plays Maria Sakkari of Greece, who also needed three sets to get past France’s Kristina Mladenovic 5-7, 6-3, 6-0.

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