The top two seeds in the men's singles event at the Italian Open are set to clash later today, after both Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer continued their success in the clay court tournament in the semi-finals. Rafael Nadal's ongoing travails on the surface have opened up the possibility of a new winner emerging at the French Open later this month, with both of the game's main players looking to cash in. First though they have the little matter of settling their latest personal battle in Rome in the final.
Nadal out in the quarters
Spanish hopes had been raised by Nadal's form during the tournament, despite his comprehensive defeat to Andy Murray in the final in Madrid. He again came unstuck in Rome against one of the top ten players though, as Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka survived a close first-set tie-break in their quarter-final clash, before having by far the better of the second set to close out the match.
Wawrinka's victory over Nadal set up an all-Swiss semi-final against his compatriot Federer. He could not recreate his form of the previous day to overcome the number two seed though, as Federer eased to a 6-4 6-2 success at the Foro Italico. His success was achieved despite an early 3-0 deficit, as Wawrinka started the match brightly. He could not maintain that standard though, as his opponent took control of the match afterwards.
Djokovic has too much for Ferrer
Djokovic has been slightly inconsistent for once during his Italian Open campaign, dropping sets throughout his passage to the semi-finals. He had to endure another three-setter against the Japanese player Kei Nishikori in their last-eight battle, before taking command of the deciding set to win that for the loss of just one game. David Ferrer proved less of a challenge, as the top seed booked his place in the final with a solid 6-4 6-4 victory, gaining breaks just when he needed them in each set.
The Serbian player seemed to have concerns with the state of the court yesterday. He complained afterwards about holes that seemed to be appearing near the baseline, with the suggestion that there was a risk of potential injury as a result. With the French Open so close, the last thing he will want to risk is turning his ankle over.
Djokovic looking to deny his nemesis first Italian title
Both men will be keen to take the title in Rome. Djokovic as defending champion will be looking to stretch his unbeaten streak and to retain the aura that goes with it. Federer will be searching for a first title in the Italian capital, a rarity on the tour for a man who has won just about everything and everywhere else. #TennisTheir head to head record remains close, Federer just having the advantage at 20-18. Having met twice already this year in the finals at Indian Wells and Dubai they have shared a win apiece, with the likelihood of another close encounter in Rome. Federer will be looking to reproduce the victory he achieved in their last clay court meeting, when he enjoyed a straight sets win in Monte Carlo last year.