ROME (AP) — Rafael Nadal put away Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-0 at the Italian Open on Friday to reach the semifinals after conceding only six games in his six sets of tennis at the tournament.
Yet he ought to be a little nervous.
Nadal has fallen in the semifinals of his last three tournaments — all on his favored clay. And next up is Stefanos Tsitsipas, whom Nadal lost to in Madrid last week.
“I know what happened last week, and I (am) going to try to do it better tomorrow,” Nadal said. “I have to hold the level or increase a little bit more. If that happens, I (am) going to have my chances. The good thing is during the last month my feeling is every week was better than the previous one.”
Tsitsipas, 20, is up to No. 7 in the rankings.
“Every year, we make (a) prediction with the team which player is going to be at the top 10 at the end of the season,” Nadal said. “I put Tsitsipas there. … He started even better than what I (expected). He deserves to be where he is now.”
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic outlasted Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4 in an entertaining slugfest that lasted more than…