Third-seeded Roger Federer saved two match points in a third-set tiebreaker against Croatia’s Borna Coric to advance to the quarterfinals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome on Thursday.
The top three men’s seeds — Serbian Novak Djokovic, Spaniard Rafael Nadal and Federer of Switzerland — each swept two matches Thursday after play was backed up because of rain on Wednesday.
Federer beat Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-3 in the Round of 32, then dropped the first set against Coric before rallying to win 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7).
Coric served for the win at 6-4 in the tiebreaker but lost the point when he hit a forehand into the net. Federer’s service winner knotted the tiebreaker, and he sealed the victory when Coric couldn’t handle a backhand volley.
“The first set was really difficult, for me at least,” Federer said. “I really struggled to see the ball. There was a lot of shade on the court … and he did well, he’s a very steady player. I couldn’t chase the lines very well, so I couldn’t hit any winners, but I really tried to play in a way where I was not going to just lose it.
“I gave him a chance to win, and he didn’t, so I took it at the end.”
Nadal, the defending champ and eight-time winner on the clay in Rome, lost only two games in his two matches. He dispatched Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-0, 6-1 before cruising past Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-1, 6-0.
The combined time of the two matches was just 2 hours, 9 minutes.
“Playing two matches is a very dangerous day. I was able to manage it well,” Nadal said. “I played well, especially I think better in the afternoon than the morning. Yeah, happy about that level in the afternoon.”
Top-seeded Djokovic wasn’t challenged, either, beating Canadian Denis Shapovalov 6-1, 6-3 before eliminating Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-3, 6-0.
Djokovic will face seventh-seeded Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina in the quarterfinals. Nadal draws Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, who won two three-set matches Thursday. In contrast to Nadal, Verdasco’s matches Thursday lasted 4 hours, 54 minutes.
“Today obviously it was a hard day at the office, but a hard day in a really good way,” Verdasco said.
Federer will play eighth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, while sixth seed Kei Nishikori of Japan meets Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman in the other quarterfinal.
Australian Nick Kyrgios threw a chair and walked off the court Thursday, defaulting his match in the Round of 32.
Kyrgios was trailing Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud 2-1 in the third set when he walked off the court. He had been warned for ball abuse, lost a point for unsportsmanlike conduct and then was penalized with a game loss for unsportsmanlike conduct, apparently for berating spectators.
After the game penalty, he smashed his racquet into the ground and kicked a water bottle, then threw a chair onto the court. A profane tirade followed, and he packed up his bag and left.
The ATP will penalize Kyrgios $33,635 in prize money from the tournament, and he will lose 45 ATP points. An additional punishment could be coming.
–Field Level Media