Rafa was rattled a couple of times last week in Rome. Fognini, Djokovic (to a lesser extent) and Sascha Zverev all had the Spaniard slightly worried.
As is usually the case, Nadal simply resets and goes again. He trailed the Italian by a set in the quarters having lost the opener 6/4, having led 4-1.
Fabio was on fire and we know he has had Nadal’s number on a few occasions. The crowd had their tails up and Nadal took the sting out. As per.
A good week punting could have been even better had the Fog got through this. I was on him the outright. He was superb against Monfils and Thiem in the earlier rounds.
In the final Nadal came out firing and dominated Sascha, taking the opener 6/1. A dip in form saw Zverev repay the compliment and the momentum gave him a break lead in the decider.
The rain threw a spanner in the works though and on returning it was different conditions, a different match and a different Nadal. Rolling off four straight games to take out last years champ.
Zverev had looked in good nick all week with wins over Edmund, Goffin and Cilic in the later rounds. All three testing him but he had the answers. Just gotta do it over five sets now Sascha lad.
Djokovic making the semis will be a huge confidence boost to the Serb, who looked a lot more solid in Italy. Wins included Dolgopolov, Ramos-Vinolas and Kei Nishikori.
Delpo picked up another injury in his third round matchup with David Goffin. It was a groin strain this time. Oh, I pine for a day he is injury free.
In the Women’s draw, Elina Svitolina retained her title in Italy. Once again beating Simona Halep in the final. It is a bit like the ‘Sascha scenario. We know she can do it but on the biggest stage of all so far she has come up short.
An aggressive style in the final was particularly impressive. It was hard to believe she got bageled in the last 16 against Daria Kasatkina. From there on in she was much more assured against Angie Kerber and Anett Kontaveit.
Kontaveit had added to her impressive CV with straight set wins over Vandeweghe, Kuznetsova, Venus and Wozniacki. She really seems to cause the Dane a lot of problems. Relentless heavy hitting probably helps! When she is good, she looks good the Estonian.
Halep had made the final after the draw seemed to open up for her. Osaka was hammered in her opener, Keys withdrew and Caroline Garcia put in a suspect effort in the quarters.
In the semi-final, she came from a set down to beat Maria Sharapova who had a lot of court time in Rome. The Russian had a three hour battle with Jelena Ostapenko the previous round. Too much court time caught up with her against the solid groundstrokes of Halep.
There was another early loss for Garbine Muguruza, losing to Daria Gavrilova in a final set breaker. It still doesn’t read well for the Spaniard. We all know that she simply breeds off confidence. It just remains to be seen whether that happens sooner rather than later again.
Andy Del Potro