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Masters Rome 2021 || Rafael Nadal Would Meet As The Last Obstacle & Djokovic Stand In The Semifinals

No one could imagine that on his way to what may be his twelfth final at the Masters 1000 in Rome, Rafael Nadal would meet as the last obstacle, this Saturday (1:00 p.m., Let's go), Reilly Opelka, a 23-year-old American who little o nothing had been said about clay until this first presence at the Foro Italico.

It will be a super difficult opponent. It has a supersaque. I must be very good with mine and be aggressive from behind to make him play one more ball. They are semifinals, I can't expect anything easy. It will be very difficult to break him because he gives very few options to the rest and he can play quietly, "said the Spaniard after winning in the quarterfinals 6-3 and 6-4 over Alexander Zverev , the man who defeated him last week in the same round of the Mutua Madrid Open.

Number 47 in the world, Opelka came from overcoming the coronavirus, with six consecutive defeats before surprising in the Italian capital successively defeating Gasquet , Musetti , Karatsev and Delbonis, whom he beat yesterday 7-5 and 7-6 (2).

Nadal is brutal. Next toZverev, Thiem or Tsitsipas are the fittest tennis players on this surface. It will be a good test to know where my level is. I have never played Rafa before. It will be a good test to measure yourself with the best player of all time, "he said after leaving the Argentine behind.

Opelka won the junior tournament at Wimbledon in 2015 and has two senior titles: New York, in 2019, and Delray Beach, a year later, both on fast track. They are successes derived from his characteristics, those of a player who obtains logical returns of his 2.11 height. Without changing his style too much, supported by the 77 direct aces he has collected since the beginning of the tournament, 18 of them against Delbonis, he has made his way to his first semi-final of a Masters 1000, one more season than he reached last year in Cincinnati, where Tsitsipas stopped him.


He goes on his own, without the obsessive character of most tennis players, encapsulated in the pursuit of his professional goals, oblivious to any cultural concerns. In Rome, he has found time to visit the Borghese Gallery with Venus Williams and took advantage of his fleeting visit to Madrid, where he lost in the first round, to go to the Prado Museum, which he qualifies as the best he has seen. Two years ago, in Basel, a quarterfinal match against Roberto Bautista awaited him , but Blackbear, a musician friend from Florida, was performing an hour and a half from the Swiss city. He went to the concert and when it ended he couldn't find a taxi back. He slept in a hotel and returned the next day with enough energy to beat the Spaniard in three sets.

Without neglecting his dedication to a sport he loves, he knows the ephemeral nature of youth and tries to take advantage of the opportunities that being a professional of this sport offers him. He cultivates gastronomy and does not always sleep as long as he needs, anxious to know the cities he visits.

The third American tennis player in the ranking, after Taylor Fritz, 31st, and John Isner, 34th, does not neglect social commitment. In the last edition of the Miami tournament, he donated one hundred dollars for each of his aces to the Wings for life foundation, dedicated to research on spinal cord injuries. He lost in the first round to Alexei Popyrin and did not have the most fertile day with the serve, since he only connected 12. The gesture, however, without being new among his colleagues, is incorporated into a profile away from the last.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, 22, once again demonstrated in the quarter-finals in Rome against Novak Djokovic the reasons that have led him to be the best tennis player this season.

The Greek put the best tennis player on the planet on the ropes, but ended up losing 4-6, 7-5 and 7-5, in 3 hours and 16 minutes. Djokovic, 12 times semifinalist in the Foro Italico , has 5 and a half hours of rest before meeting in the penultimate round with local Lorenzo Sonego, Andrey Rublev's executioner by 3-6, 6-4 and 6-3 . To find the last Italian in the fight for the title you have to go back to Adriano Panatta in 1978 .

The Serbian rallied in the rain resumption . It went from 4-2 for Tsitsipas to 4-5 for the world number one. The sun was finally shining in the Italian capital after a rainy Friday.

'Nole' needed four chances to sign the tables on the scoreboard with a second 'break' in the twelfth round. The defender of the Roman crown shouted in demand.

His rival broke the duel again with a break in the third game of the continuation. The first favorite of the box suffered the same disease that led him to lose in the semi-finals in Belgrade: he missed many break points (6-23).

His racket paid for it, which ended up crashed on a billboard on one side of the court.

Novak re-engaged in the game and reached all four games tied. He would then lose his serve for the fifth time. Tsitsipas served to win at 5-4 and missed. He paid dearly because the next three games would end on the other side of the net. Djokovic signs eight consecutive semifinals in Rome.

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