Rafael Nadal could take on Dominic Thiem in the quarter final in Rome - UBITENNIS
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Rafael Nadal could take on Dominic Thiem in the quarter final in Rome

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The draw for the 76th edition of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia has taken place at the famous Pietrangeli Stadium at the Foro Italico in Rome. Seventeen of the top 20 players in the ATP Rankings feature in the final clay-court Masters 1000 tournament of the year.

 

Four-time Rome champion Novak Djokovic has been drawn in the top half and will play in the second round against either Denis Shapovalov or Pablo Carreno Busta. Djokovic beat Shapovalov in a tough four-set match at last January’s Australian Open. The Serbian star could meet Italy’s Marco Cecchinato in the third round in a possible rematch of last year’s Roland Garros quarter-final. Daniil Medvedev and Juan Martin Del Potro also feature in the same quarter of the draw and could meet Djokovic in the quarter-final. Djokovic is on a collision course for a possible semi-final clash against Alexander Zverev, who won the Rome title in 2017 and finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal in last year’s edition. The young German star, who lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-final in Madrid, will kick off his Rome campaign against either local favorite and this year’s Budapest champion Matteo Berrettini or Frenchman Lucas Pouille. Zverev could face Gael Monfils in the third round and either Marin Cilic or Kei Nishikori in the quarter-final.

Second-seed and Rome champion Rafael Nadal could take on this year’s Indian Wells and Barcelona champion Dominic Thiem in a potential blockbuster quarter final match.

Nadal will start his title defense in the second round against the winner of the all-French first-round clash between Richard Gasquet before meeting 14th seed and 2018 Hamburg and Beijing champion Nikoloz Basilashvili, who lost to Nadal in four sets in the 2018 US Open.

Thiem will face either Fernando Verdasco or Kyle Edmund in the second round and potentially Karen Khachanov in the third round.

Djokovic and Nadal have won 12 of the last 14 titles in the Eternal city.

Roger Federer said after his quarterfinal loss to Dominic Thiem that he will decide on the weekend whether he plays in Rome or not. The Swiss legend, who never won the Rome tournament and lost four times in the final, could meet either Joao Sousa or Frances Tiafoe in the second round in the same bottom half of the draw. Federer’s potential rivals on the route to the final could be Borna Coric in the third round, Stefanos Tsitsipas or this year’s Monte-Carlo champion Fabio Fognini in the quarter-final and Thiem or Nadal in the semifinal.

The Rome draw features some exciting first round clashes like Daniil Medvedev vs Nick Kyrgios, Stan Wawrinka vs David Goffin, Borna Coric vs Felix Auger Aliassime, Fabio Fognini vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Alex De Minaur vs Marco Cecchinato.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career

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Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.

 

Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.

 

Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.

 

“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati

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David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.

 

Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.

The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.

Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open  2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.

Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.

“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”

 

 

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Richard Gasquet reaches his first Masters 1000 semifinal since Miami 2013

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Frenchman Richard Gasquet edged past this year’s Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2 after 2 hours and 12 minutes to reach his first Masters 1000 semifinal since the 2013 Miami Open.

 

 Gasquet missed six months of action after undergoing groin surgery last January.

The French player set up a semfinal against David Goffin, who reached the semifinal after his Japanese opponent Yoshihito Nishioka withdrew from the match due to illness.

The first set went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Bautista Agut hit a backhand wide at 1-2. Gasquet sealed the tie-break when Bautista Agut hit a forehand long.

Bautista Agut earned two breaks of serve in the second set and sealed it, when Gasquet made his third double fault on set point.

Gasquet broke serve with a volley in the third game of the decisive set. The French player went up a double break to race out to 4-1 lead. He saved two break points to hold his serve at deuce before serving out the third set on his first match point.

“I know how tough it was to come back. I know the moments I had at the start of the year, so I just wanted to enjoy, to fight. It is not easy to come back after six months out, but I am here. I am in semis tomorrow”,said Gasquet.

 

 

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