He gritted his teeth so as not to give up, but the Mass was said at the beginning of the third set: Rafael Nadal, unable to move normally, was eliminated on Thursday in the round of 16 in Rome ten days before Roland-Garros .
After clearly dominating the first lap, the Spaniard (4th) was lowering his level, more and more visibly suffering his foot.
He suffers from a chronic foot injury that forced him to end the season last August. He only returned to competition in January to win the Australian Open and take the Grand Slam title record to 21.
In March, he was injured again, but with a rib in the semifinals in Indian Wells. He only returned to the Madrid circuit where he lost in the quarterfinals to future winner Carlos Alcaraz.
– Djokovic solid –
The Mallorcan seemed to be gaining momentum and a Roman semi-final against Novak Djokovic was already looming on the horizon. But Nadal will not be there in the end and it is Shapovalov who will face the Norwegian Casper Ruud (10th) to try to get to the quarterfinals, perhaps against Djokovic.
This past Thursday was a solid day to say goodbye to Stan Wawrinka.
Djokovic and Wawrinka played memorable matches. But that was before. Today the Serb is No.1 while the Swiss has dropped to 361st place in the ATP and is trying to return to his best level after more than a year of inactivity to treat a foot injury.
And the difference on the track was marked. Wawrinka (37) did well – or forced his opponent to succeed – with great tennis shots, but nothing to worry about Djokovic winning 6-2, 6-2.
“I was solid, very disciplined from start to finish, I made him move. We see that he doesn’t move like before, he’s slower,” Djokovic said.
He himself lacked matches before defending his title at Roland-Garros (from May 22 to June 5), the world number 1 proved to be very solid in service and return, as well as in better physical condition and tactically only in Monte Carlo. (removed from entry) and Belgrade (finalist).
Wawrinka, however, did not offer enough opposition to assess whether he had advanced further compared to Madrid last week when he was eliminated in the semifinals by 6-7, 7-5, 7-6 by Alcaraz.
– Trained by Toni –
In the quarterfinals in Rome on Friday, however, the test will be more forceful against the Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime (9th) who defeated the American Marcos Giron (60th) by 6-3 and 6-2.
“Clay is not his favorite surface. But he has been working with Toni Nadal for two years, which has obviously made him progress on this surface,” said Djokovic. Rafa’s uncle.
In the event of a defeat against the Canadian, Djokovic, who lost the final last year, would give up his place as world number one to Daniil Medvedev, who was absent from Rome.
Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsistipas will also be in the quarterfinals.
– Tsitsipas drops a game –
The German (3rd) fired the Australian Alex De Minaur by 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) and will face on Friday the Chilean Christian Garin (45th) who defeated the Croatian Marin Cilic (23rd) by 6-3, 4-. 6, 6-4.
“Alex is a very good player and above all a very good receiver. So he may lose his service against him, but I really need to be more efficient in my service throughout the match,” said the Olympic champion of Tokyo. .
Zverev had won the first major title of his career in Rome in 2017 by beating Djokovic in the final. The following year he was defeated in the final for Christmas, the same one he had won in the quarterfinals last year.
As for Tsitsipas, he took a set to settle on Thursday before deploying to dominate Russian Karen Khachanov (24th) by 4-6, 6-0, 6-3.
The Greek (5th) will face local hero Jannik Sinner (13th) who defeated the Serbian Filip Krajinovic (54th) 6-2, 7-6 (8/6).
“I leveled up in the second set,” he said, happy to have managed to stay calm to launch his “tactical schemes.”
In the women’s draw, the day was quiet for the favorites with easy rankings of Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, Ons Jabeur and Maria Sakkari.