Tennis — Italian openSaturday, May 17, 2014
Top-seeded Nadal holds off strong Murray challenge
ROME — Rafael Nadal stormed back from a surprisingly poor opening set to edge Andy Murray 1-6 6-3 7-5 yesterday and secure a spot in the Italian Open semifinals.
Murray jumped out to a 5-0 lead and won the first set in just 37 minutes with a dominant display, as the Wimbledon champion unleashed a series of winners from just about everywhere on the court.
But Nadal broke early in the second set and took control with a late break in the third to stay on course for his eighth title in Rome.
Still, it was the third consecutive match in which Nadal was pushed to three sets, leaving his clay-court form in question entering Roland Garros, which starts in nine days.
And despite losing in the end, it was a positive performance for Murray, who is still trying to regain his top form following minor back surgery in September.
Nadal’s semifinal opponent will be Grigor Dimitrov, while Novak Djokovic and Milos Raonic will meet in the other half of the draw.
The second-ranked Djokovic overcame a stiff challenge from David Ferrer before grinding out a 7-5 4-6 6-3 win and, in the women’s draw, the top-ranked Serena Williams then rolled past Zhang Shuai of China 6-1 6-3 to stay on course in her title defence. Williams’ semifinal opponent will be 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, who beat 13th-seeded Carla Suárez Navarro 6-4 3-6 6-4.
The other semifinal will pit local hope Sara Errani of Italy against 2007 and 2008 Rome champion Jelena Jankovic.