Nadal bounces back from slow start to reach Rome semis
Rafael Nadal continued his clay domination on Friday, rallying from a set down to reach the Italian Open semi-finals with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Fabio Fognini.
The world number two needs to lift an eighth career title at the Foro Italico on Sunday to return to the top of the ATP rankings after losing that position to Roger Federer last week.
Spaniard Nadal dropped the opening set in an hour but re-grouped effortlessly as he swept past the Italian in the one-sided second and third sets of their quarter-final tie.
"I'm not used to playing so early," Nadal said of his midday start. "But I'm very happy to be in the semi-finals.
"This was a very important win for me today."
Nadal also beat Fognini in Rome in 2013 in their first ever meeting.
This was his 11th victory in 14 meetings with the 21st-ranked Italian, and sixth in a row.
It was the first time in four years that Nadal managed to win his quarter-final tie in Rome and next up he will face either fellow former world number one Novak Djokovic or Japan's Kei Nishikori.
The 31-year-old top seed was joined as semi-finalist by women's fourth seed Elina Svitolina, who recovered from a slow start to defeat former world number one Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-4, 6-4.
© 2018 AFP