without Nadal, the road to Rome is open


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Roma (AFP) – The defeat of defending champion Rafael Nadal on Thursday in Rome cleared the way for new favorite Novak Djokovic, who plays his quarter-final on Friday, but beware of the appetite of Alexander Zverev or Stefanos Tsitsipas, first qualified for the semi-finals. finals.

Without the phenomenon Carlos Alcaraz, absent in Rome to better prepare for Roland-Garros (May 22-June 5), and now without Nadal, the emperor with ten coronations at the Foro Italico but limping off the stage, the Serb can consider a sixth title on Roman clay. And a first trophy in 2022, a year that began a false start with his incredible expulsion from Australia for lack of vaccination.

“Nole” will try to reach the last four in the evening against the Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime (9th), 21, an opponent he has never met. A victory would also ensure him to keep his place of N.1 coveted by Daniil Medvedev.

But there is no shortage of candidates to regain the crown abandoned by Nadal, starting with the other former winner in Rome still in the running: Zverev, crowned in 2017, winner without great difficulty of the Chilean Cristian Garin (45th in the world) 7-5, 6-2.

The opportunity for the 25-year-old German to have a thought for Nadal, who appeared very diminished just over a week before the start of Roland-Garros: “I’m sorry for Rafa. I hope he will go well, he has ten days to be able to play in Paris”, he underlined.

Rafael Nadal leaves the court eliminated by Denis Shapovalov at the Masters 1000 in Rome, May 12, 2022 Andreas SOLARO AFP

Third half Zverev-Tsitsipas in less than a month

In the semi-final, the world No.3 will find Stefanos Tsitsipas (5th), who defeated Jannik Sinner (13th), the one who carried Italian hopes in the absence of Matteo Berrettini (8th), recently operated on with one hand.

Stefanos Tsitsipas facing the young Italian Jannik Sinner in Rome, May 13, 2022
Stefanos Tsitsipas facing the young Italian Jannik Sinner in Rome, May 13, 2022 Andreas SOLARO AFP

On a central court white-hot by the almost summer sun and an audience all committed to the cause of his opponent, the 23-year-old Greek suffered in the face of the millimeter drop shots of the 20-year-old Azzurro.

But he was able to be solid on serve at the end of an ultra-tight first set to pocket the tie-break, then unfold in the second against a diminished Sinner 7-6 (7/5), 6-2.

It will be the third semi-final in less than a month between Zverev and Tsitsipas: in Monte-Carlo, in April, the Greek won (6-4, 6-2) before winning the tournament for the second time ; in Madrid, last week, it was the German who won (6-3, 3-6, 6-2) before losing in the final against Carlos Alcaraz.

“He’s a player who challenges me a lot. He’s hard to beat and has a lot of experience,” commented Tsitsipas.

In the third quarter-final of the day, Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who struck Nadal the day before, fell to Casper Ruud in straight sets 7-6 (9/7), 7-5.

Alexander Zverev too strong for Chilean Christian Garin at Foro Italico, May 13, 2022
Alexander Zverev too strong for Chilean Christian Garin at Foro Italico, May 13, 2022 Andreas SOLARO AFP

The Norwegian will face for a place in the final Djokovic or Auger-Aliassime.

26 in a row for Swiatek

Among the women, the world No.1 and defending champion Iga Swiatek is striding towards a fifth final in five tournaments after dominating 7-6 (7/2), 6-0 the Canadian Bianca Andreescu (90th) in the quarters .

Swiatek will meet third-seeded Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka in the semi-finals for a repeat of the final in Stuttgart at the end of April, which saw the 20-year-old Pole win her fourth tournament in a row after Doha, Indian Wells and Miami.

The former Roland-Garros winner (in 2020), defending champion on Roman clay, has not yet dropped a set this year on the banks of the Tiber to bring her winning streak to 26 in a row.

Polish Iga Swiatek victorious over Canadian Bianca Andreescu in Rome, March 13, 2022
Polish Iga Swiatek victorious over Canadian Bianca Andreescu in Rome, March 13, 2022 Tiziana FABI AFP

Since 2000, only Venus Williams (with a record at 35), Serena Williams and Justine Henin have done better: “Being in this group is a dream come true. I’m pretty happy with that because consistency is the thing that I really wanted to work on last year”.

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