Italian Open 2021: Nadal’s Win Highlights Friday’s Action; Djokovic Match Suspended

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 14, 2021

ROME, ITALY - MAY 14:  Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after defeating Alexander Zverev of Germany in their match on Day Seven of the Internazionali BNL D'Italia at Foro Italico on May 14, 2021 in Rome, Italy. Sporting stadiums around Italy remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal moved within two wins of his 10th Italian Open title with a straight-sets victory over Alexander Zverev in the men's quarterfinals Friday at Foro Italico in Rome.

Ashleigh Barty, the top seed in the women's draw, was forced to retire from her quarterfinal against American teenager Coco Gauff because of an arm injury after winning the first set.

Let's check out all of the scores from Friday's clay-court matches, the remainder of which were postponed because of rain. That's followed by a recap of some top storylines.

Men's Quarterfinals

(5) Stefanos Tsitsipas leads (1) Novak Djokovic; 6-4, 2-1 (suspended)

(2) Rafael Nadal d. (6) Alexander Zverev; 6-3, 6-4

(7) Andrey Rublev vs. Lorenzo Sonego; postponed

Reilly Opelka d. Federico Delbonis; 7-5, 7-6 (2)

Women's Quarterfinals

Coco Gauff d. (1) Ashleigh Barty; 4-6, 1-2 (ret.)

(5) Elina Svitolina vs. (15) Iga Swiatek; postponed

(9) Karolína Pliskova d. Jelena Ostapenko; 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (1)

Petra Martic d. Jessica Pegula; 7-5, 6-4

Day 7 Recap

Nadal bounced back from a mediocre performance against Denis Shapovalov on Thursday with a better overall showing to move past Zverev in relatively routine fashion.

It still wasn't a perfect showing from the King of Clay, as he faced 10 break points, but his play on the match's most important points was nearly impeccable. He saved nine of those break chances against and converted three of his six break opportunities against the German star, who beat him in last week's Madrid Open.

"[I'm] happy. I played a very solid match with not many mistakes, playing the way that I have to," Nadal told reporters. "[It's] an important victory for me against a great player."

He'll be a heavy favorite against Opelka in the semifinals.

Tennis TV @TennisTV

Revenge in Rome!@RafaelNadal ends a run of three defeats to Zverev with a 6-3 6-4 victory in the Italian capital.#IBI21 pic.twitter.com/VYEfaXc3xM

Barty has been in terrific form lately, winning the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix and reaching the final of the Madrid Open, but she explained the arm injury that forced her to withdraw from the Italian Open is an ailment she's been trying to manage for years.

"The pain was becoming too severe so it was important to listen to my body and and do the right thing knowing we have a Slam," Barty said.

The main draw of the French Open, the season's second major, is scheduled to begin May 30.

Barty's departure creates a golden opportunity for Gauff, who will appear in her first Masters tournament semifinal.

"It's not a way you want to win a match," Gauff said. "... Obviously I felt for her, but when you have the chance to play the No. 1 player in the world, it's not a good feeling to win this way. I send the best well wishes, and hopefully she can get well before the French Open."

USTA @usta

🇺🇸 @CocoGauff is through to the semifinals in Rome after Ash Barty is forced to retire due to an injury pic.twitter.com/3IoX4jsSzo

The three remaining quarterfinals will be finished Saturday. The tournament hasn't announced an updated schedule for the remainder of the event.