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Italian Open: Tsitsipas ready for Djokovic challenge, Zverev test for Nadal

Nadal airs confidence, while the Serb is in no mood to take Tsitsipas lightly
Rafael Nadal.
Rafael Nadal.
File picture

Prabhjeet Singh Sethi   |   Published 14.05.21, 06:05 PM

Rafael Nadal yet again proved that he is ‘King of Clay’ during his round of 16 clash versus Canadian Denis Shapovalov last night. The Spaniard was trailing, being 0-3 down in the second set, before swinging things his way with a one-of-a-kind fightback. And not just that, he also held his nerve in the final set by saving two match points, eventually winning 3-6, 6-4 and 7-6(3). He will now face Germany’s Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals today. Nadal lost to Zverev in the Madrid Open quarter-finals barely eight days ago.

This will be the Spaniard’s 16th last-eight appearance at the Italian Open, and 97th quarter-finals appearance in an ATP Masters 1000 event.

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“That’s why he’s won so many matches on clay. It’s not the first time Rafa’s done this. I’m not the first person to lose with match points. He does well with the pressure in those moments,” Shapovalov was quoted as saying by AP.

Nadal is feeling fit enough, and that is important before the top-billing French Open gets underway on May 30. “To be able to win these kind of matches against young players give me confidence with my body,” he said.

Tsitsipas ready for Djokovic challenge

There seems to be no stopping Novak Djokovic this Italian Open. But Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Matteo Berrettini in the round of 16, has some plans. “Djokovic has won here a lot of times. He can play on all surfaces, we’ve played each other at the French Open. I see the next match as an opportunity for me to do better this time, but I hope to keep playing the same tennis that I’ve been playing this time so far and be a challenge for him,” Tsitsipas told atptour.com.

But Djokovic is in no mood to take his opponent lightly. “Tomorrow is going to be a huge challenge for me. I'm going to be ready for it. I've been practising well and feeling good. I'll make sure I prepare myself well for the next match,” he said after his round of 16 clash yesterday.

Djokovic and Tsitsipas have played each other six times. Djokovic has won four times and Tsitsipas only twice. Both their meetings on clay -- 2019 Madrid Masters and 2020 French Open -- have gone in Djokovic’s favour.



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