Saturday, 25 May, 2019

Rafael Nadal praises himself after ruthless Italian Open win over Damir Dzumhur

Rafael Nadal praises himself after ruthless Italian Open win over Damir Dzumhur Rafael Nadal praises himself after ruthless Italian Open win over Damir Dzumhur
Steven Clarke | 17 May, 2018, 02:54

Nadal lost his first match on clay in over a year last week in the Madrid quarter-finals to Austrian Dominic Thiem and as a result lost his world number one ranking to Roger Federer.

Alexander Zverev got his Rome title defence underway at the Italian Open on Wednesday with a straight-sets win over Italy's Matteo Berrettini as the German bids for back-to-back Masters triumphs after success in Madrid.

The 31-year-old, who recently claimed the 11th titles of his career at both Monte Carlo and Barcelona, took the first set in 34 minutes, coasting to victory in just an hour.

But Nadal can take it back by winning in Rome and he set his stall out by blitzing Dzumhur 6-1 6-0 in an hour.

The 16-time Grand Slam victor next takes on Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov who dug deep in a 7-6 (7/3), 6-7 (5/7), 6-3 win over Robin Haase of the Netherlands.

Djokovic, a four-time victor, is on the comeback trail three months after elbow surgery and eased past Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-2.

Djokovic, meanwhile, has now secured convincing back-to-back wins in Rome as the Serbian continues to feel his way back after the elbow injury that kept him sidelined for half of last season and prolonged spells this year. "It's a loss which is not too painful, which is just motivating me for the next weeks", the Austrian said.

"I like to slide on the clay and today was easy for me".

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Also on the red clay, Kei Nishikori rallied to beat third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-4.

The Serb will next play Spaniard Albert Ramos Vinolas who squeezed past American eighth seed John Isner 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/5).

Osaka had every reason to be confident heading into her clash with Halep after beating her 6-3, 6-0 at Indian Wells in March, but on this occasion, she collapsed after a wasteful start.

After the match, Pliskova didn't shake hands with the chair umpire and struck the chair several times with her racket.

Wozniacki can reclaim the world number one ranking from Halep, last year's losing finalist, if the Romanian fails to reach the quarter-finals.

On Halep's first match point, the 21st-ranked Osaka didn't even make a move for Halep's return of her second serve. She could not hide her fury as she went on to lose the match 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.

The former World No 1 needed to save four break points during a marathon seventh game but clinched a break of his own a couple of games later to go one set up. I don't know how many mistakes I made, but not many.

Maria Sakkari upset sixth seed Karolina Pliskova in three sets with an impressive comeback, and Johanna Konta overcame Su-Wei Hsieh 6-0, 6-4.

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