Rome: Seven-time champion Rafael Nadal overcame a poor first set and a partisan crowd to beat Fabio Fognini 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 and reach the Italian Open semi-finals on Friday.
The crowd at the Foro Italico was decidedly behind Fognini, Italy’s top player, and Nadal was under pressure when Fognini won five straight games to cancel out a 4-1 deficit and win the opening set.
But Fognini couldn’t keep up with Nadal’s consistency and heavy topspin on the red clay court and eventually was physically worn down.
For a spot in the final, Nadal will play four-time Rome champion Novak Djokovic or Kei Nishikori.
In the women’s quarter-finals, defending champion Elina Svitolina defeated Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-4 for her sixth straight victory over the former No. 1 player.