Australia

Rafael Nadal stunned in historic upset

Diego Schwartzman scored the biggest win of his career, stunning Rafael Nadal in straight sets on the Spaniard’s favourite surface.

The Argentine outclassed Nadal 6-2 7-5 in the quarter-finals of the Italian Open, which is being played on clay as a lead-in event to the French Open — a grand slam Nadal has won 12 times.

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It’s Schwartzman’s first ever win over the world No. 2 in 10 meetings and his first ever victory over a top-five opponent.

The result saw the world No. 15 deny Nadal a 10th title in Rome, and the left-hander will now turn his attention to preparing for another tilt at Roland Garros.

Schwartzman hit 31 winners to Nadal’s 21, while the king of clay was uncharacteristically sloppy in making 30 unforced errors.

Schwartzman will face Canadian young gun Denis Shapovalov in the semi-finals.

“It was crazy. Tennis is crazy. Our performance is always crazy,” the 28-year-old said. “The past three weeks were really bad for me.

“Today I played my best tennis. Very similar to Roland Garros against Rafa three years ago and I’m very happy.

“I was not thinking to beat him really because I was not playing good (recently). But today I did my best and I’m very happy.”

Nadal will have to re-write history to win this year’s French Open because never before in his previous 12 successes has he failed to win a warm-up event on clay.

DJOKOVIC LOSES HIS COOL AGAIN

Top men’s seed Novak Djokovic dropped a set before fighting off German qualifier Dominik Koepfer to reach the semi-finals of the Italian Open this morning.

The world No. 1 needed more than two hours to see off the 97th-ranked German 6-3 4-6 6-3.

Two weeks after his US Open default for accidentally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball, the Serb again showed signs of frustration, throwing his racquet after a lost service game, with shouts of anger resounding in the silence of the empty Central Court of Foro Italico.

“It’s not the first nor the last racquet that I’ll break in my career,” Djokovic said. “I’ve done it before and I’ll probably do it again. I don’t want to do it but when it comes, it happens.

“That’s how, I guess, I release sometimes my anger and it’s definitely not the best message out there, especially for the young tennis players looking at me, and I don’t encourage that – definitely.

“That’s just me. “Of course I’m not perfect and I’m doing my best.”

Djokovic was broken four times before advancing to his 11th semi-final in Rome, where he has reached the final nine times and won four titles.

“Credit to (Dominik) for fighting back, but I have myself to blame for putting myself in a position to play a third set,” said Djokovic.

“I was a set and a break up and everything was looking great. I just wasn’t managing to make that final shot, that final step to win in straights.”

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The 33-year-old next plays Norway’s Casper Ruud who earlier battled past Italian fourth seed Matteo Berrettini 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-5).

“Clay is definitely Casper’s preferred surface,” said Djokovic. “This is where he feels most comfortable. It’s semi-finals and it is anybody’s game.

“I’ll do some homework and be ready for that one.”

Amid the frustration there was a lighthearted moment when umpire Nacho Forcadell forgot who was playing and accidentally announced “game, Federer” after Djokovic broke Koepfer in the third set.

Djokovic is bidding for a record 36th Masters crown in the Italian Open, being currently tied on 35 with Spain’s Rafael Nadal, the number two seed in Rome.

AFP

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