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Nadal through to Italian Open semis as Federer withdraws

Rafael Nadal at the Italian Open

Defending champion and eight-time winner Rafael Nadal beat fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-4 6-0 to reach the Italian Open semi-finals.

Nadal, who has lost in the semi-finals of his past four tournaments, came from 2-0 down to win in one hour 38 minutes.

He next faces 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas, who went through following the withdrawal of Roger Federer.

World number three Federer, a four-time finalist in Rome, was unable to compete because of a right leg injury.

Nadal, a 17-time Grand Slam winner, conceded only two games in his matches against Jeremy Chardy and Nikoloz Basilashvili on Thursday, but had to save a point to prevent a 3-0 deficit against fellow left-hander Verdasco.

He survived three break points at 4-4 in the first set but needed only 36 minutes to win the second.

Argentina’s world number 24 Diego Schwartzman secured his place in the semi-finals with a 6-4 6-2 win over Japan’s Kei Nishikori in one hour 28 minutes.

Schwartzman will face compatriot Juan Martin del Potro or Serbia’s world number one Novak Djokovic for a place in Sunday’s final.

Federer was competing in the Italian Open for the first time since 2016.

The Swiss, 37, saved two match points to defeat Borna Coric 2-6 6-4 7-6 (9-7) on Thursday, having beaten Joao Sousa in straight sets earlier in the day.

“I am disappointed that I will not be able to compete today,” said the 20-time Grand Slam champion.

“I am not 100% physically and after consultation with my team, it was determined that I not play.

“Rome has always been one of my favourite cities to visit and I hope to be back next year.”

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BBC Sport – Tennis

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