In a surprise loss, defending champion Rafael Nadal bowed out the Italian Open after losing to Argentine Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 7-5 in the quarter-finals, Saturday.
Nadal, a nine-time champion who had won his previous nine encounters against Schwartzman, struggled to serve him throughout the match, and committed a series of unusually easy mistakes.
The Italian Open was the first for the Spaniard in about 7 months, and although he made his way easily in the first two rounds, the effect of his distance from matches was clearly visible since the start of his match against Schwartzman, the 15th seed.
Nadal committed 30 easy fouls to Schwartzman’s 17 and lost his serve five times.
“One cannot expect to win a match with so many serves to lose,” Nadal said. “This is something I have to fix. I know how to do it.”
Nadal travels later to Paris, where he aspires to achieve his 13th title in the French Open, “Roland Garros”
Earlier in the day, Novak Djokovic overcame a setback midway through his game against Dominic Kover before winning 6-3 4-6 6-3 over the unseeded German to book his place in the semifinals.
The top-ranked Serbian player easily resolved his first two rounds, his first match after he was excluded from the US Open for hitting the ball while observing the streak, but he faced a difficult test when Kofer equalized with a set for each.
But Djokovic regained his focus to clinch the victory and keep his chances of winning his 36th Masters Championships title.
Djokovic will meet Casper Rudd in order to qualify for the final after the Norwegian player beat Italian fourth seed Matteo Brettini 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 in their confrontation in the quarter-finals.