The Quarter Finals of the 2010 Rome Internazionali BNL d’Italia men’s singles event were played yesterday with just 1 out of 4 Spaniards being defeated. Today both semi final matches will be played on Campo Centrale, with the 1st match beginning at 1:30pm local time in Rome and the 2nd semi final to follow at 4pm. There is a very good chance that for the 2nd Masters 1000 final in a row, that we could see an all Spanish final.
We could even see a rematch of the 2010 Monte-Carlo final between Rafael Nadal and countryman No.6 seed Fernando Verdasco who won the Barcelona title after his Monte-Carlo runner-up performance. The 1st quarter final was the best match of the round with a very close struggle lasting 3 hours and 18 minutes before the 1.88m Verdasco served an ace to defeat No.2 seed Novak Djokovic for the 2nd time in the past 2 Masters 1000 events. The 26 year old won 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-4 to progress to the Rome semi finals for the 1st time after being a quarter finalist in 2009 and 2005.
The 2nd match quarter final was between No.7 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and No.13 seed David Ferrer. Ferrer is pictured above preparing to play his double handed backhand drive in the 2009 Davis Cup final in Barcelona. Tsonga went for his shots in what ended up being the decisive 1st set, especially from 4 games all. However, Tsonga’s pressed too much and went for low percentage shots especially from how deep he was striking these shots from. When the set was there to be won the Frenchman fell short whilst the 13cm shorter Ferrer showed great consistency and court coverage to win 6-4 6-1.
Ferrer had a big turn around moment at the end of 2009 when he was trailing Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 1- 2-6 in the 2nd match of the Davis Cup Final, to come back and win the 5th set by 8 games to 6. Since then Ferrer has recorded the most match wins on the ATP Tour and the most clay court wins in 2010 with 22 thus far. The former World No.4 is playing in his 5th Masters 1000 semi final and will be looking to record a personal best by reaching a final for the 1st time.
The 1.75m Ferrer takes on the player with the 2nd most match wins this year, the 1.88m Verdasco. Verdasco defeated Ferrer in their last meeting which was also the last tournament they both played before Rome, Barcelona. Verdasco won that semi final in 3 sets to move to a 6-3 advantage in their previous battles and has now won the past 3 in a row.
Verdasco would love a chance to win his 1st Masters 1000 title whilst he continues to ride the best form of his career, but will need to execute his finishing shots against the super consistent, speedy Ferrer. Ferrer will look to extend the rallies to wear out Verdasco, who one would expect, have preferred to be playing the 2nd match on today, to give himself a bit more recovery time after his marathon with Djokovic. Prediction: Ferrer.
The 3rd match of the day saw No.3 seed Rafael Nadal extend his record to 5-0 against Stanislas Wawrinka. Nadal had to fight really hard in an especially competitive 1st set, in which the 25 year old Wawrinka played a number of great points, that gave a clear guide to the other players on the tour of how to beat Nadal. The 23 year old Nadal managed to prevail from 4 games all in the 1st set by keeping Wawrinka so deep in the court, which successfully neutralised the Swiss No.2’s creative shot making and wide variety of plays.
Nadal despite Warinka’s best efforts took the 2nd set and match 6-1. Nadal next plays the winner of the night session match in which the 21 year old Latvian Ernests Gulbis prevented an all Spanish semi final in today’s 2nd semi final.
Gulbis continues to build on his victory over Roger Federer in the 2nd round by preventing an all Spanish semi final day. The 1.9m Gulbis reversed the result against Feliciano Lopez in their 1st and only previous meeting in which Lopez won in straight sets. The 28 year old Lopez saw his 3 other countrymen win and advance to the Rome semi finals.
Lopez, Verdasco, Ferrer and Nadal shared on court success, with Lopez and Verdasco clinching the doubles rubber to win the 2009 Davis Cup final for Spain. After a closely fought 1st set, which Gulbis prevailed by 8 points to 6 in the tie break, Lopez could only manage 1 game in the final set to bow out 7-6 6-1. Defeating a left handed Spaniard in his quarter final should serve Gulbis well in his semi final clash with the Rome defending champion.
The man who beat Roger Federer will be looking for an extremely rare double, to beat Federer and Nadal in the same tournament, in order to reach his 1st Masters 1000 final. The 1.9m Gulbis has played Nadal twice and both times they had a close struggle even though Nadal got to play him on clay at the Madrid Masters last time. Both matches were 2 years ago, which has given the very talented youngster the time to mature and gain experience.
If Gulbis can perform well enough to be successful against Nadal, then he may just be the player to take the reigns over from the Federer and Nadal stranglehold on the World No.1 ranking. A young player routinely comes up and over throws the established champions throughout the history of tennis. Will Gulbis take his 2nd big step towards making his claim to be that player in today’s semi final? Prediction: Gulbis.
The men’s semi final singles draw is:
(1) Federer Ernests Gulbis v. (3) Rafael Nadal
(4) Murray (13) David Ferrer v. (6) Fernando Verdasco (2) Djokovic
The players name that is bolded is OCA’s prediction of who will win each match. The players names who have a line drawn through them, are the seeded players who have been eliminated from that spot in the draw.
Stay tuned to this tennis website for further information about Rome. For more details click-> Rome 2010: Apr 24 – May 8.
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