Rafael Nadal's Masterclass Sends Fernando Verdasco Packing, Advances to Semis

Rafael Nadal reached his 12th Rome Masters semi-final in 2019

by Jovica Ilic
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Rafael Nadal's Masterclass Sends Fernando Verdasco Packing, Advances to Semis

Rafael Nadal reached his 12th Rome Masters semi-final four years ago. Nadal played at a high level at Foro Italico and toppled fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-0 in an hour and 38 minutes. It was their 20th duel on the Tour, and Nadal celebrated his 17th victory.

He overcame a slow start and dominated the rest of the clash to notch his 59th Rome Masters victory. Nadal forged the win with 17 winners and 13 unforced errors. He left Verdasco on an 18-23 ratio and had the upper hand in the shortest and mid-range exchanges to sail toward the finish line and another deep run at one of his favorite events.

Rafa struggled on the second serve and faced nine break points. He denied eight to reduce the damage and keep the pressure on the other side. Fernando reached his first Masters 1000 quarter-final since the end of 2017 but could not go further.

The more experienced Spaniard dropped almost 60% of the points in his games and experienced five breaks from eight chances offered to his compatriot.

Rafael Nadal bageled Fernando Verdasco at the 2019 Rome Masters.

Verdasco was ready to play all-or-nothing shots right from the start.

He stayed aggressive and broke Nadal in the encounter's first game with a forehand down the line winner. The older Spaniard saved two break points in the next game to confirm the break and had another chance to extend the lead.

He netted a backhand on a break chance in game three and wasted an opportunity to move 3-0 in front. Nadal broke back in game six despite Verdasco's three game points, leveling the score at 3-3 and settling into a nice rhythm before the second part of the set.

Fernando had the opportunity to move in front again at 4-4. He earned three break points, and Rafa denied them to avoid the setback and hold for 5-4. World no. 2 gathered a boost and grabbed a break at 15 in game ten after Verdasco's terrible forehand, securing the opener 6-4 in grueling 61 minutes.

As was expected, Fernando faded from the court after that and experienced a bagel in set number two. The defending champion broke in game two after the rival's backhand error and denied three break points in the next one. Nadal clinched another break in game four with a backhand down the line winner and moved closer to the finish line.

Rafa held at love for 5-0 and sealed the deal with a break at 15 in game six to march into the semi-final, hoping for a better run than in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid.

Rafael Nadal Fernando Verdasco Rome Masters
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