DJOKOVIC, NADAL ON COURSE

For­mer cham­pi­ons likely to meet in semis as they gear up for Roland Gar­ros

New Straits Times - - Sport -

ROME 6-3, 6-4 win over Amer­i­can Jack Sock, seeded 13th.

The Spa­niard, a seven-time cham­pion in Rome and now on a 17-match clay­court win­ning streak, also swept Djokovic aside in the semis in Madrid.

But French Open cham­pion Djokovic said: “I’m get­ting closer, I feel like to­day’s match was one of the bet­ter ones I’ve played on clay this sea­son, and in the past cou­ple of months.

“It’s com­ing at the right time, we’re get­ting closer to Roland Gar­ros. All the play­ers are look­ing to raise their game for Paris.

“I’ve been do­ing my best to op­ti­mise my game to get it to the high­est pos­si­ble level at the mo­ment ... right now, as days are pass­ing by, I feel more com­fort­able on the court, more con­fi­dent hit­ting the ball.”

It kept Djokovic on track to meet Nadal in the semis after the Spa­niard ended Sock’s hopes in 1hr 20min.

“It was a good vic­tory against Jack, he’s a tough op­po­nent. He hit the ball hard with a lot of spin,” said Nadal.

“I played a more ag­gres­sive game and I’m serv­ing bet­ter. I can play a bit more ag­gres­sive than the way I played tonight, but over­all I’m happy.”

Thiem saved three match points in beat­ing Sam Quer­rey 36, 6-3, 7-6 (9/7).

Another play­ing look­ing to up his game for the French No 3 num­ber three said a lack of con­fi­dence was to blame for his shock 7-6 (7/1), 6-4 de­feat to bigserv­ing Amer­i­can John Is­ner, who is ranked 24th in the world.

“When you lack con­fi­dence and rhythm, against op­po­nents like (Benoit) Paire and Is­ner, it’s not ideal,” said Wawrinka, who had beaten French­man Paire 6-3, 6-4 on Wed­nes­day.

Is­ner, meet­ing Wawrinka for the first time in six years, will now meet Marin Cilic after the sixth seed from Croatia beat Bel­gian David Gof­fin, the ninth seed, 6-3, 6-4.

In the women’s tour­na­ment, Venus Williams over­came de­ter­mined Bri­ton Jo­hanna Konta to win their third-round clash 6-1, 36, 6-1.

In the ab­sence of sis­ter and de­fend­ing cham­pion Ser­ena, she will now meet Spain’s Gar­bine Mugu­ruza for a place in the semis and a pos­si­ble match-up with Czech sec­ond seed Karolina Pliskova.

Venus, com­pet­ing in Rome be­cause “I still have a lot to give“, was more cir­cum­spect about her chances of em­u­lat­ing Ser­ena by win­ning Roland Gar­ros.

“It’s so dif­fer­ent when you’re talk­ing about it or when you’re play­ing it,” she said.

“When you’re play­ing it, it’s a lot of work. There is not even one point that is given.”

Rus­sia’s Svet­lana Kuznetsova, the sev­enth seed, suf­fered a 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 de­feat to Aus­tralian qual­i­fier Daria Gavrilova.

Daria will meet Dutch 15th seed Kiki Bertens after she beat un­seeded Rus­sian Eka­te­rina Makarova 7-6 (7/3), 6-1. AFP

AFP Pic

No­vak Djokovic won against Roberto Bautista Agut in the Rome Mas­ters on Thurs­day.

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