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Spain's Rafael Nadal got past his countryman Fernando Verdasco with ease on Friday, advancing to the Italian Open tennis tournament semifinals where he is set to clash against rising pro Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece.

It took Nadal one hour and 38 minutes to claim a 6-4, 6-0 win over his fellow Spaniard.

"Very happy about the victory, I played well," Nadal said after the match. "I suffered when I had to suffer and in the second set when the match was a little bit more in my favour, I was able to play a little bit more aggressively."

"It is true Fernando was probably a little bit tired from yesterday but in general terms I am very happy with the way I played," he added.

Verdasco has been one of the surprises of the clay-court event, upsetting fourth-ranked Dominic Thiem of Austria and Russia's Karen Khachanov after almost five hours of play on Thursday.

Eight-time Rome champion Nadal earned two easy wins Thursday against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy and Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia, losing only two games overall.

Heavy rain in Rome forced a delay to Wednesday's play, so the organizers ordered the fixtures corresponding to the second and third rounds to be played Thursday.

Nadal is set to take on Tsitsipas in the semifinals scheduled for Saturday in a repeat of their recent clash at the 2019 Madrid Masters semis, when the Greek claimed his first win against the Spaniard, out of four head-to-head encounters.

"I lost last week to a good player like Stefanos," he said. "Tomorrow is another chance to play against a great player and to play a good match."

The 20-year-old Tsitsipas cruised into the semis at the Italian Masters after the withdrawal of Switzerland’s Roger Federer due to a right leg injury.

“I had to take the tough decision this morning to pull out of the Italian Open as I am not feeling 100 percent physically,” Federer said on his social media accounts.

“The fan reaction and crowd energy during my matches yesterday remind me exactly why I am still competing on the ATP Tour. Thank you Roma for an incredible week. Mazie Grille!” the Swiss star added.

On the other hand, the organizers of the Masters event posted: “Unfortunately, King Roger had to withdraw from the tournament due to an injury to his right leg. We wish him a fast recovery. Thank you for the incredible emotions.”

In other Rome Open action, Diego Schwartzman of Argentina secured his first Masters 1000 semifinal appearance after defeating Japan’s Kei Nishikori.

Next up in the semis, the 26-year-old Schwartzman will square off against the winner between Novak Djokovic of Serbia against the other Argentinian player Juan Martin del Potro.

It will be the 20th game between Djokovic and Del Potro while the Serb has a 15-4 win record, with the last at the 2018 US Open final. EFE

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