ROME, May 17: Roger Federer saved two match points against Borna Coric to advance to the quarterfinals of the Italian Open as defending champion Rafael Nadal and top seed Novak Djokovic raced through in straight sets.
Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a return to Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany at the Italian pen in Rome. – AP/PTI
However, Australian firebrand Nick Kyrgios was disqualified on Thursday after a foul-mouthed rant during his third-round match against Norway’s Casper Ruud which could land him with a lengthy suspension.
Federer came through 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (9/7) against 13th seed Coric after earlier beating Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-3 in the second round as players doubled up after rain wiped out play on Wednesday.
Federer, a four-time finalist in Rome, trailed 0-4 before dropping the first set, coming back in the second and saving two match points in the third set tie-break.
“Definitely felt like I got a little lucky obviously,” said Federer.
“Borna had the lead. There were crucial moments throughout the match, second set and third set, for me to stay in it. Things definitely went my way tonight.”
Federer next plays Greek eighth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Monte Carlo Masters champion Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-3.
Tsitsipas shocked Federer in the fourth round at the Australian Open in January. Nadal, meanwhile, dropped just two games throughout the day, dispatching Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-1, 6-0 in the third round after earlier also dropping just one game against France’s Jeremy Chardy.
“I have been improving every week,” said Nadal, who next plays fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco as he targets a first title on clay this season before his French Open defence.
“It’s been a peculiar clay court season for me. I had some tough period of time. Has been little bit difficult to hold the body and the tennis level for every day.”
Djokovic, winner in Madrid last Sunday, beat German Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-0 after earlier easing past Canadian Denis Shapovalov 6-1, 6-3.
The four-time Italian Open winner next plays Argentine seventh seed Juan Martin Del Potro for a place in the semifinals.
“I like the fact that I didn’t play yesterday because I felt like I needed an extra maybe day of rest and recovery a little bit,” said the Serb.
“So it was perfect.” – AFP