Italian Open: Day 4 Highlights

Italian Open: Day 4 Highlights Photo: TT
Stan Wawrinka celebrates victory over Laslo Djere at the Italian Open. May 11, 2022. Rome, Italy. Photo Courtesy: Internazionali BNL d’Italia / Adelchi Fioriti.

A record of 36.803 fans witnessed at the Foro Italico, Rafael Nadal notching his inaugural victory, while Stan Wawrinka set a meeting with Novak Djokovic on Thursday. Jannik Sinner became the last Italian standing in singles, and Tsitsipas survived a three-setter thriller against Dimitrov.

On Wednesday, the Internazionali BNL d’Italia offered another action-packed day of high-quality tennis in Rome.

Some of the best tennis players in the world embodied the gladiators’ spirit, fighting battles for the ages, giving their all to continue alive in the competition, followed closely by a record of 36.803 spectators on site as those watching worldwide.

Third seed Rafael Nadal took the Center Court to face American John Isner, setting off his campaign on Roman soil to defend his title.

The 10-time champion in Rome eased past World No. 27, clinching a 6-3, 6-1 triumph in one hour and 16 minutes, setting a third-round meeting with 13th seed Denis Shapovalov, who on Tuesday put out Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili in straight sets, despite losing his nerve at times.

Although the 21-grand slam champion won the match against Isner, his performance did not please him. Soon after the matchup concluded, he asked his team to set up a court to go training right after.

In that regard, World No. 4 commented: “The only way for me to give myself a chance to recover the level that I want to recover, or I want to reach, is to work. Today, the match was not that demanding physically, so I felt myself a little bit more can keep helping.”

Speaking about his game, the Spaniard stressed: “I finished better than how I started, without a doubt. The beginning of the match was not good for me.

He had some chances on the return and had two break points. [He had] two not difficult balls, so I was in his hands, at that moment. I was lucky that he missed those shots, and then I was able to break. Then the match changed, of course.

With the first set on the board and having the break in the first game of the second [set], everything changed.”

Nadal, who, last year, overcame world number one Novak Djokovic to earn a 10th Italian Open crown, is still working to find his best tennis after coming back from injury.

On Thursday, Nadal and Shapovalov will play at tour level for the sixth time in their careers; the former leads the latter 4-1.

The most recent encounter between the 35-year-old and World No. 16 happened at the Australian Open quarterfinals, a five-setter, the eventual champion won.

For me, today is not about which player I have in front, it’s about trying to improve every single day.”

Tomorrow I’m going to have a tough test with a great player. It is an opportunity for me to keep trying. That’s what I’m going to do.”

Stan Wawrinka toppled Laslo Djere 7-6(8), 3-6, 6-4, recording back-to-back wins for the first time since January 2021, advancing to the third round to play Djokovic in what will be their 26th meeting on tour.

In his on-court interview, the Swiss said: “At my age, after all, I’ve done in my career, to get the chance to play in front of the fans is why I’m still playing.”

On Monday, the 37-year-old earned his first tour-level victory in 17 months against 14th seed Reilly Opelka in three sets.

Wawrinka has been away from tour since March 2021 due to a left foot injury that required surgery.

Later in June, the three-time grand slam champion underwent a second surgery to treat his Achilles heel foot, beginning a long recovery process.

After the clash against Djere, Wawrinka asserted: “I’m not where I want to be yet with my game, with my fitness level, with my mental [game].”

I need those matches, so to have a chance to play against the best player, it’s going to be really difficult for me, that’s for sure,” he remarked.

Djokovic leads their Head2Head series 19-6, albeit on clay; the Serbian player is 5-2 ahead of the former world number three.

The Belgrade native achieved his 60th career triumph in Rome over Aslan Karatsev Tuesday, 6-3, 6-2, after one hour and 30 minutes.

20-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner showcased a solid performance against fellow countryman Fabio Fognini, whom he beat 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in over two hours.

In his on-court interview, Sinner outlined: “It was a tough one for sure. I tried to play my best tennis, especially in the important points.”

The World No. 13 added: “In the second set, he raised his level. He played better than me. In the third set, it was a little bit of a rollercoaster.

Fortunately, I’ve done a great job in the final set to manage to break him first, and this, for sure, was the key today.”

Next, the 10th seed will face Filip Krajinovic; the Serbian stunned sixth seed, Andrey Rublev, 6-2, 6-4 in just 68 minutes.

Sinner leads their Head2Head series 1-0, prevailing at the 2021 Sofia Open semifinals.

For his part, World No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas rallied to outlast Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (4), saving two match points in the process, to move into the next round.

In his post-match interview, the fourth seed stated: “Incredible fight; I’m extremely happy I was able to overcome this obstacle. Grigor played really well; gave me a hard time on the court.”

Just so many emotions. The fact that I was able to process all of that and come back stronger in the third-set tie-break, it was such a great way to redeem myself after not being able to hold in that last game of the second set.”

The two-time Monte-Carlo Masters champion awaits World No. 24 Karen Khachanov. The Moscow native scored a 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 triumph Wednesday over Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta.

About competing at the Foro Italico, the Greek further expressed: “It’s like playing in the Colosseum. There’s so much energy coming from the crowd.

I think the people that came today to watch the match were so into it… It made for a great atmosphere and a great gladiator kind of environment on the court.

Cecilia demartini
Sports Pundit staff writer @ceci_2812
Cecilia is a writer and a journalist passionate about sports, particularly motorsport, tennis, and soccer

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