Rafael Nadal got revenge for last week's loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas, comprehensively defeating the Greek 6-3 6-4 to reach the Internazionali d'Italia final.

The Spaniard had been beaten in four consecutive semi-finals, including by Tsitsipas at the Madrid Open, but recorded an emphatic victory in one hour and 43 minutes on Saturday to move one match away from winning his first ATP Tour title in 2019.

Tsitsipas, who showed his frustration as he argued a line call with the umpire in the second set, had 27 unforced errors to just 17 winners and struggled to find a foothold in the match after making a poor start, with Nadal throwing in some spectacular shots at key moments.

Nadal, an eight-time champion at this tournament in Rome, will face either Novak Djokovic or Diego Schwartzman in Sunday's final, one week from the start of his attempt to win a record 12th French Open crown at Roland Garros.

The early games proved crucial in the first set, with Nadal taking a tightly contested opener, breaking with his first opportunity with a beautiful forehand down the line, before saving two break points to go 3-0 up.

There were no chances for either player from then on, and the world number two dug in while serving for the set, recovering from 0-30 down and needing only one set point to move in front thanks to an unreturned serve.

Nadal missed his first two chances to move ahead in game three of the second set, but made no mistake when another Tsitsipas error gave him a third break chance, with the Greek finding the net in reply to a thumping forehand.

Tsitsipas did at least hold three times from there to force Nadal to serve the match out, but the 32-year-old did exactly that without dropping a point as he converted the first of his three match points when his opponent sent a return long, reaching his 50th Masters 1000 final.

Rafael Nadal was at his imperious best on clay as he dispatched Fernando Verdasco 6-4 6-0 to book an Internazionali d'Italia semi-final showdown with Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Nine days out from the French Open beginning, Nadal delivered an ominous warning to his rivals at Roland Garros by winning 12 of the final 14 games against Verdasco in Rome.

Verdasco had a break-point chance to move 3-0 up early on but Nadal soon found his rhythm and was ruthless in the second set, recording his third bagel of the week.

Nadal will hope to reach his 11th final in the Italian capital and the eight-time champion now faces Tsitsipas, who beat the Spaniard in the semi-finals at the Madrid Open last week, after the Greek was handed a walkover following Roger Federer's injury-enforced withdrawal.

In a match between two players who played twice on Thursday due to Wednesday's washout, Nadal started sluggishly and Verdasco's aggressive style paid dividends as he moved 2-0 ahead.

Nadal broke back in the sixth game yet needed some big serving at 0-40 down to prevent Verdasco moving one away from clinching the opener.

However, Verdasco pulled a forehand wide to give Nadal the lead and the world number two showed no mercy in the next, wrapping up the set in 37 minutes, with his opponent winning only three points in his three service games.

It meant Nadal reached a fourth straight semi-final, though he has lost at the last-four stage in each of his previous three clay-court tournaments.

Naomi Osaka admitted her clay-court form ahead of the French Open has been "rocky" after she withdrew from the Internazionali d'Italia on Friday due to injury.

The defending US Open and Australian Open champion pulled out of her quarter-final clash with Kiki Bertens in Rome after waking up with pain and swelling at the base of her right thumb.

It was the second time in three tournaments that the 21-year-old had withdrawn due to injury, with an abdominal problem ending her run at the Stuttgart Open.

Osaka, who lost in the last eight of the Madrid Open this month, will be the top seed and world number one at the French Open, but she conceded her injury problems have been frustrating as she bids to make it three grand slam titles in a row.

"I would describe [the clay season] as rocky," she told reporters on Friday.

"I can't necessarily say it's been ups and downs because if I think about it, it's definitely been going up.

"Every match that I've played, I've learned a lot. I've tried to take what I've learned into the next match and I think I've done that well.

"But the injury part is very annoying. I feel like the ab thing could have been helped, but this one I don't think I could have helped because I don't know what caused it. I don't know why I have it.

"I feel there are preventable injuries and ones where you have to just take it how it is."

Osaka is not the only one to have suffered injury problems this week.

Serena Williams was unable to face sister Venus because of a recurrence of a knee injury, Caroline Wozniacki retired from her first-round match because of a calf complaint and Simona Halep, the defending French Open champion, needed treatment on a leg injury during her second-round loss to Marketa Vondrousova.

Osaka suffered her problem just nine days out from the French Open beginning and she expressed her disappointment at being unable to face the in-form Bertens, who beat Halep in the Madrid Open final last weekend.

"I woke up this morning and couldn't really move my thumb," Osaka explained.

"I tried to practice and grip my racquet, but I couldn't, and I kept feeling this pain when I tried to move my hand in different directions.

"Right now, I'm really not mad but in between sad and disappointed because I really wanted to play my match today. For me, it was sort of a test to play against Kiki because she's playing really well, and I wanted to see how well I could do today."

World number one Naomi Osaka has pulled out of her scheduled Internazionali d'Italia quarter-final with Kiki Bertens due to a hand injury, just nine days before the start of the French Open.

Shortly before her last-eight match against Bertens was due to begin on Friday, the WTA confirmed Osaka had been "forced to withdraw due to a right hand injury".

The 21-year-old, who was won the last two grand slams, confirmed her status as top seed at Roland Garros by virtue of Simona Halep's early exit in Rome on Thursday.

Osaka becomes the latest player to suffer an injury scare in the final major clay-court tournament before the French Open.

Serena Williams pulled out in Rome earlier in the week following a recurrence of a knee injury, with Caroline Wozniacki retiring from her first-round match on Tuesday because of a calf complaint.

Halep, the defending French Open champion, also required treatment on a leg injury in her second-round loss to Marketa Vondrousova.

Serena Williams will face her sister Venus in the second round of the Internazionali d'Italia after they secured contrasting first-round victories on Monday.

Tenth seed Serena started her clay-court season with a commanding 6-4 6-2 over Rebecca Peterson at the Foro Italico.

The 23-time grand slam champion will do battle with her older sibling 21 years after their only other previous match in Rome, which Venus won at the quarter-final stage.

Venus, unseeded in the Eternal City, came through an almighty tussle with Elise Mertens 7-5 3-6 7-6 (7-4).

Madison Keys, Anett Kontaveit, Garbine Muguruza and Victoria Azarenka also made it through to the second round along with Amanda Anisimova, who will face newly-crowned Madrid Open champion Kiki Bertens.

SERENA LAYS DOWN A MARKER

Former world number one Serena overpowered Peterson in the opening match of what is only her fourth tournament of the year.

The 37-year-old, still eyeing a first title since becoming a mother in 2017, took only an hour and 16 minutes to get past the Swede in her first match in two months, having withdrawn from the Miami Open due to a left knee injury.

Serena, who will face Venus for a 31st time on the WTA Tour, said: "It felt good to be back in the match. It's been a while. I haven't played a ton of matches this year.

"Not my choice, just by force. I really, really actually desperately wanted to be on the tour and to be playing, but it hasn't been able to work out. It felt good to finally be back out. Hopefully I'll be able to keep it up."

 

VENUS STILL HAS THE STAYING POWER

Mertens would not go down without a fight as she refused to accept defeat against Venus.

The Belgian saved eight match points to force a decisive tie-break, with Venus unable to shake off an opponent 15 years younger than her.

Venus finally saw it out after three hours and two minutes on Grandstand Court, ending a contest that included 15 breaks of serve.

 

OSAKA TO FACE CIBULKOVA

Naomi Osaka will start her mission to retain world number one status and be top seed at the French Open with a clash against Dominika Cibulkova on Wednesday.

Osaka will achieve both of those goals if she makes it through to the quarter-finals this week, while Simona Halep must win the title to have any chance of replacing her.

Cibulkova saw off Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 6-3 to avoid a first-round exit.

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