4:30 PM ET
ROME — Novak Djokovic extended his recent mastery over Rafael Nadal with a 7-5, 7-6 (4) win in the Italian Open quarterfinals on Friday, coming from behind in both sets of a match he agreed was “a classic.”
Nadal wasted five set points in the second set of an encounter that went nearly 2 1/2 hours.
“It felt definitely special to be on the court today playing against Rafa for several hours,” Djokovic said. “Thankfully, we didn’t play (like in) Grand Slams, best of five. Who knows when this match would finish?”
In the women’s quarterfinals, top-ranked Serena Williams routed Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-0 and will play Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania, who defeated Misaki Doi of Japan 6-2, 7-6 (3).
Also, Wimbledon finalist Garbine Muguruza beat Timea Bacsinszky 7-5, 6-2 and will meet Madison Keys, who eliminated Barbora Strycova 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
Djokovic has beaten Nadal in the last seven of their 49 encounters, the most in the Open Era. Overall, Djokovic leads the series 26-23.
Editor’s PicksBodo: Djokovic’s on-demand excellence the difference
It wasn’t the perfect match from the world No. 1, but Novak Djokovic’s ability to win the clutch points against Rafael Nadal in the Rome Masters quarterfinals was the difference.
Murray: Hard work on clay ‘paying off’
Andy Murray beat David Goffin on Friday to reach the semifinals in Rome, before declaring his clay game is coming together as he prepares for another tilt at the French Open.
This was their last opportunity to play each other before the French Open, which starts in nine days.
“Winning against Nadal on clay doesn’t happen often, doesn’t …
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