By Alasdair Mackenzie
ROME (Reuters) – Rafael Nadal progressed to his 50th Masters 1000 final with a 6-3 6-4 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Saturday as British number one Johanna Konta also triumphed in the Italian Open semi-finals.
The Spaniard will meet the winner of world number one Novak Djokovic’s clash with Diego Schwartzman on Sunday.
Nadal avenged his defeat to the 20-year-old Greek at the same stage of the Madrid Open a week ago as he looked to be returning to form ahead of this month’s French Open.
The 32-year-old broke Tsitsipas’s serve early in both sets while holding his own service games as he wrapped up victory in one hour 42 minutes.
The win keeps Nadal in the hunt for a ninth Italian Open title after he lost at the semi-final stages of his last four tournaments.
In the women’s singles, Konta came from a set behind to beat Dutch world number four Kiki Bertens 5-7 7-5 6-2 and progress to the final, where she will face qualifier Maria Sakkari or fourth seed Karolina Pliskova.
The 28-year-old will contest her second claycourt final of the season, after finishing as runner-up to Sakkari at the Morocco Open, as she heads into this month’s French Open in fine form.
Konta lost her momentum after being broken while serving for the first set but fought back by taking the second.
She pulled away in the final set, breaking the Madrid Open champion’s serve twice before securing victory on her fourth match point.
“After I lost the first set, I mean, I didn’t do much wrong,” Konta said.
“It was a very good set of tennis. Equally the second set, as well. There wasn’t anybody putting a bad foot out of line.
“In the third, I definitely felt that I was able to maintain my level a bit better than her. I think that gave me the upper hand in stringing some more points together. I’m just very happy to have come through.”
Konta became the first British woman to reach the final of the tournament since Virginia Wade in 1971.
(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Clare Fallon)