Nadal denies Isner’s power to advance to Rome Round of 16

ROME: USA’s John Isner serves to Spain’s Rafael Nadal during their Italian match at Foro Italico. —Reuters

ROME: Defending champion Rafa Nadal started his Italian Open campaign with an emphatic 6-3, 6-1 victory over big-game American John Isner to advance to the round of 16 on Wednesday while ‘Iga Swiatek is on course for a fifth straight WTA triumph. after defeating Elena-Gabriela Ruse 6-3, 6-0.

Nadal, who returned from a rib injury this month and fell in the quarter-finals in Madrid last week, dominated Isner who struggled to find answers once the Spaniard, looking of his 11th title at the Foro Italico in Rome, has hit his stride.

Isner leads the ATP Tour with over 450 aces in 2022, but Nadal nullified the American’s booming serve by receiving from far behind the baseline – even on his second serve – breaking four times and limiting it to one only ace in the game.

Nadal will face Denis Shapovalov in the next round, against whom he saved two match points in the third round last year en route to his 10th title.

Stan Wawrinka, who won for the first time in 15 months in the first round, edged Laslo Djere 7-6 (10-8), 3-6, 6-3 to set up a round of 16 clash with world no. Novak. Djokovic.

Stefanos Tsitsipas was forced to work hard to beat Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) in a difficult match in which he had to save two match points before finally prevailing in a third set. Pause.

Second seed Alexander Zverev, who lost in the final in Madrid at the weekend, also advanced to the round of 16 after beating Argentina’s Sebastian Baez 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 .

Italian youngster Jannik Sinner beat fellow prospect Fabio Fognini 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 and will face Filip Krajinovic for a place in the quarter-finals.

Defending women’s champion Swiatek, who earned a second-round bye, extended her winning streak to 24 games after converting seven break points to wipe the floor with Ruse.

Swiatek, 20, is in fine form having won his last four tournaments and will be aiming for a second title at Roland Garros after winning there as a teenager in 2020.

The top seed will next face former world number one Victoria Azarenka, who beat Colombian Camila Osorio 6-2, 6-4.

Former champion Karolina Pliskova was kicked out of the women’s tournament after being beaten by Switzerland’s Jil Teichmann 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.

Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who became the first African player to win a WTA 1000 title in Madrid over the weekend, also advanced to the next round on Wednesday after beating Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic 7-5, 6-2.

Jabeur next faces Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva, who knocked out eighth seed Garbine Muguruza in a hard-fought 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-1 victory.

Third seed Aryna Sabalenka advanced to the next round with a routine 6-2, 6-0 win over Zhang Shuai, while Coco Gauff is also in the last 16 after beating fellow American Madison Brengle 6-2, 6-4.

Croatian Petra Martic knocked out fifth seed Anett Kontaveit with a 6-2 6-3 victory while seventh seed Danielle Collins edged Simona Halep 7-6 (7-1), 6-3.

Posted in Dawn, May 13, 2022