By Alasdair Mackenzie
ROME (Reuters) – Champion Rafael Nadal set up an Italian Open semi-final with Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday thanks to a 6-4 6-0 win over Fernando Verdasco.
A week after being beaten by the Greek upstart in the Madrid Open semis, the 32-year-old Nadal will be eager to prove that the loss to Tsitsipas was just a blip as he fine tunes his game ahead of this month’s French Open.
The 20-year-old Greek progressed after Roger Federer pulled out with a right leg injury before their quarter-final encounter.
Nadal went 2-0 down before surviving three break points at 4-4 in the first set, but he pulled away by winning eight consecutive games to continue his hunt for a ninth title in Rome.
Diego Schwartzman reached that last four with a 6-4 6-2 victory over Japanese sixth seed Kei Nishikori.
He will face either Novak Djokovic or Juan Martin del Potro for a place in the final.
(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie, editing by Pritha Sarkar)