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Rome Masters 2019: Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas semifinal preview

ANALYST
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269   //    18 May 2019, 00:41 IST

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal

Roger Federer pulled out from his quarterfinal clash against young Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas and Rafael Nadal registered a spectacular victory against compatriot Fernando Verdasco in the second quarterfinal of the day. That means the ‘King of Clay’ Nadal and the next gen star Tsitsipas will lock horns against each other, again in the semi-finals, at the Rome Masters.

This will be a rematch of their epic clash last week at Madrid where the Greek sensation prevailed over the Spaniard in three tough sets. That gave the 17-time Grand Slam champion his third-consecutive semi-final defeat on clay.

Nadal walked into the Rome Masters like a cornered tiger, determined to return to his lethal best. He would have be eager to win his first title of the year at the Italian capital from the moment he stepped on the court at the Foro Italico.

Two days and three matches later, we can assume that the ‘King of Clay’ has certainly got his mojo back. He has got into a fine rhythm, notching up a trio of dominant victories in the first three rounds.

Resilient and monumental, Nadal’s best performance was against the veteran Spaniard Verdasco as he thrashed him 6-4, 6-0 to storm into the semi-finals.

Can Tsitsipas upset the 'King of Clay' yet again?
Can Tsitsipas upset the 'King of Clay' yet again?

As far as Tsitsipas is concerned, after succumbing in straight sets to Novak Djokovic in the final at Madrid, the Greek has registered impressive wins over Jannik Sinner and the home hope Fabio Fognini in Rome. And with a day off owing to Federer’s right leg injury, Tsitsipas would be well rested leading up to his semifinal clash against Nadal.

With a sense of confidence behind him and the experience of beating Nadal on clay, Tsitsipas would fancy upsetting the Spaniard for a second time in as many weeks. He would be keen to put up his best show when he steps out on the Centre Court on Saturday.

Nadal on his part would be keen to avenge the loss that he suffered at the hands of the young Greek last weekend. He leads their head-to-head 3-1, and would look to rediscover the form he showed during their Australian Open meeting earlier this year.

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Nadal's inconsistent serve has been one of the strongest reasons for his struggles on clay this season. He would be desperately hoping to get it right against a player like Tsitsipas in order to advance to his first clay final of the year.

Will the ‘King of Clay’ finally break the jinx of semi-final losses at Rome, or will the Greek star overpower the Spaniard yet again to continue his dream run? It will be intriguing to how it all unfolds; Nadal-Tsitsipas tussle promises to be one heck of a mouth-watering semifinal clash.

Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in three sets.

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