without Christmas, the road to Rome is open

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Rome (AFP) – The defeat of reigning champion Rafael Nadal on Thursday in Rome paved the way for new favorite Novak Djokovic, who will play his quarter-finals on Friday, but has the appetite of Alexander Zverev or Stefanos Tsitsipas, who qualified for the semifinals. .

Without the phenomenon of Carlos Alcaraz, absent in Rome to better prepare for Roland Garros (May 22-June 5), and now without Christmas, the emperor with ten coronations at the Foro Italico but limping on stage, the Serb can raise a sixth. title on Roman clay. And a first trophy in 2022, a year that began a false start with its incredible expulsion from Australia for lack of vaccination.

“Nole” will try to reach the quarterfinals this evening against Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime (9th), 21, a rival he has never met. A win would also guarantee him to maintain his No. 1 position coveted by Daniil Medvedev.

But there is no shortage of candidates to regain the crown abandoned for Christmas, starting with the other former winner in Rome still in the running: Zverev, crowned in 2017, winner without much difficulty of the Chilean Cristian Garin (45th in the world) 7 -5, 6 -2.

The opportunity for the 25-year-old German to have a thought about Christmas, which seemed very diminished just over a week before the start of Roland-Garros: “I’m sorry for Rafa. I hope he does well , he has ten days to be able to play in Paris “, he underlined.

Rafael Nadal leaves the track eliminated by Denis Shapovalov at the Masters 1000 in Rome, May 12, 2022 Andreas SOLARO AFP

Third half Zverev-Tsitsipas in less than a month

In the semifinals, the world number 3 will meet Stefanos Tsitsipas (5th), who defeated Jannik Sinner (13th), who carried the Italian hopes in the absence of Matteo Berrettini (8th), recently operated on one hand.

Stefanos Tsitsipas facing young Italian Jannik Sinner in Rome, May 13, 2022
Stefanos Tsitsipas facing young Italian Jannik Sinner in Rome, May 13, 2022 Andreas SOLARO AFP

On a central track set by the almost summer sun and an audience committed to the cause of his rival, the 23-year-old Greek suffered a 20-year-old shot from the Azur Azurro.

But he was able to be solid in the serve at the end of a tight first set to pocket the tie-break, and then unfold in the second against a reduced Sinner 7-6 (7/5), 6-2.

It will be the third semi-final in less than a month between Zverev and Tsitsipas: in Monte Carlo in April, the Greek won (6-4, 6-2) before winning the tournament for the second time; in Madrid, last week, it was the German who won (6-3, 3-6, 6-2) before losing in the final to Carlos Alcaraz.

“He is a player who challenges me a lot. He is difficult to win and has a lot of experience,” said Tsitsipas.

In the third quarter-finals of the day, Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who beat Nadal the day before, fell to Casper Ruud in sets followed by 7-6 (9/7), 7-5.

Alexander Zverev too strong for Chilean Christian Garin at the Foro Italico, May 13, 2022
Alexander Zverev too strong for Chilean Christian Garin at the Foro Italico, May 13, 2022 Andreas SOLARO AFP

The Norwegian will face for a place in the final Djokovic or Auger-Aliassime.

26 consecutive for Swiatek

Among women, world number one and defending champion Iga Swiatek is advancing to a fifth final in five tournaments after dominating 7-6 (7/2), 6-0 Canadian Bianca Andreescu (90th) in the quarterfinals.

Swiatek will face Belarus’ third seed Aryna Sabalenka in the semi-finals to repeat the final in Stuttgart in late April, where the 20-year-old Polish won her fourth consecutive tournament after Doha, Indian Wells and Miami.

The former Roland-Garros winner (in 2020), Roman clay-court defending champion, has yet to lose a single set this year on the banks of the Tiber to bring her winning streak to 26 in a row.

Poland's Iga Swiatek defeated Canadian Bianca Andreescu in Rome on March 13, 2022
Poland’s Iga Swiatek defeated Canadian Bianca Andreescu in Rome on March 13, 2022 Tiziana FABI AFP

Since 2000, only Venus Williams (with a record of 35), Serena Williams and Justine Henin have done better: “Being in this group is a dream come true. I’m very happy because consistency is what really I wanted to work last year. ”

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