Rafa Nadal is through to the semi-finals of the Italian Open in Rome after a straight-sets win over clay court rival Alexander Zverev.
The result will be even sweeter for the world No. 3, coming just a week after the Spaniard was beaten on his favourite surface by the same opponent in the Madrid Open.
But Nadal had no such issues in the Italian capital, brushing his opponent aside 6-3 in the first set, before finish the job with typically ruthless efficiency in the second, running out a 6-3 6-4 winner.
“I’m happy. I think I played a very solid match with not many mistakes, playing the way I have to. Important victory for me again against a great player,” Nadal said after his win.
“I think I played more solid than in Madrid. At the same time conditions are different. In Madrid he was able to create a lot of damage with his serve and then with the first shot here, the situation is a little bit different, a little bit more normal conditions on the clay.
“I was able to control the game a little bit more than in Madrid where the ball was flying a lot and it was difficult to be under control. At the same time the main thing is that I played well.”
Nadal will face America’s Reilly Opelka in the semi-finals after the American reached the last-four in Italy with a 7-5 7-6 win over Federico Delbonis on Friday morning.
“He’s a player who has almost an unreturnable serve,” Nadal said of his upcoming opponent. I need to be very focussed with my serve and then try to be ready to accept and be passionate on the return. That is what I am looking for.”
Novak Djokovic faces Stefanos Tsitsipas in the afternoon session for a place in the semis, with Lorenzo Sonego playing Andrey Rublev in the fourth men’s quarter-final in Rome.