Italian Open: Novak Djokovic beats Diego Schwartzman to reach final

Carrie Guzman
May 20, 2019

With eight-time victor Nadal breezing past Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 6-4 to claim the first final spot, Djokovic started strongly, despatching some typically composed shots to wrap up the first set, capping it off with a wonderful drop-shot in the final game following a terrific rally.

Djokovic however will go into next week's French Open still ranked as number one in the world, despite Nadal becoming the oldest champion at the Italian Open, the latter goes into his favored Slam - which he has won more than any other player - as now the player to win in Rome more than any other.

It was a timely morale booster heading into the usual defence of his French Open title, as he had failed to win any prior events in his clay court campaign.

The Spaniard has not claimed a title since a year ago but blitzed Djokovic in the first set - the first time there has ever been a 6-0 scoreline between the pair after 141 previous attempts.

Djokovic took the second by breaking Nadal's serve for the first time while leading 5-4, but the second seed responded in style by storming through the decisive set.

Top-ranked Djokovic, meanwhile, appeared exhausted after spending more than five and a half hours on court against Juan Martin del Potro and Diego Schwartzman the previous two days.

"But, as I said, for me I don't want to talk about Grand Slams now".

This week, Rafael Nadal sent a clear and unmistakable message to the tennis world that he is still the one and the only true King of Clay.

If I play better, I know I'm going to have chances to be in finals and to win semifinal matches, " Nadal said.

"The feeling is that I am playing better every week, every day". There were a couple of tough matches so I was happy to fight through them.

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To tumultuous acclaim from the capacity crowd, Djokovic forged his first break point opportunity of the match in the fourth game of the second set, but a magnificent, whirling forehand into the corner from Nadal soon eradicated it.

"Before the tournament, I was not super confident", said Pliskova, a 2017 French Open semi-finalist. "Today those shots felt really slow and he had plenty of time to pass me when I was approaching to the net".

Djokovic, who won Madrid, had said prior to that final that he wanted to test his game against Nadal, widely regarded as the greatest clay-court player.

"It's not a drama to lose in semi-finals".

The Serb eventually clinched the second set 6-4 courtesy of some unforced errors from Nadal and ensure a third set, and it seemed as though a looming crisis had been averted.

"I just hope to take the tennis I was playing here to Paris", Pliskova said.

The results: Women: Final: Karolina Pliskova bt Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-4.

After three semi-final defeats in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid, Nadal has returned to his best form ahead of Roland Garros.

Del Potro had pulled out of Indian Wells and Miami with a knee injury, but matched Madrid Open victor Nadal shot for shot, wrapping up the first set 6-4 in a little more than an hour.

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