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Italian Open: Novak Djokovic outlasts Nishikori to book semifinal date with Nadal

Four-time Italian Open champion, Novak Djokovic bounced back from an opening set loss to defeat Kei Nishikori and advanced to the semifinals at the Foro Italico on Friday.

Djokovic, currently ranked 18, sealed a 2-6 6-1 6-3 victory in two hours and 21 minutes to book a semifinal date with Rafael Nadal, who beat Fabio Fognini to reach his first Italian Open semis since 2014.

Nadal proved too much for his opponent, who recorded an incredible comeback from 1-4 down to win the first set. While the Italian showed flashes of his brilliant best as he won five games on the bounce in the opener, he couldn’t sustain that level, as he was eventually beaten 4-6 6-1 6-2.

“I feel that is an important victory for me, coming back from a set against. First time since I came back that I was one set against and I won. So, there’s a lot of positive things out of the match today,” Nadal said.

It will be a 51st career meeting between Djokovic and Nadal when these two clash in Saturday’s semis, with the former holding a 26-24 record against the Spaniard.

Marin Cilic also, booked his semifinal spot with a comfortable 6-3, 6-3 win over Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain and will face either defending champion, Alexander Zverev or David Goffin in the semifinals.

In the women’s field, former world no. 1, Maria Sharapova defeated French Open champion, Jelena Ostapenko in a thrilling encounter. The Russian kept her composure to win 6-7, 6-4, 7-5 in 3 hours and 10 minutes to reach the semifinals at the Foro Italico for the first time in three years.

Maria Sharapova celebrates her win over Jelena Ostapenko

Sharapova will next face world No. 1 Halep, who recorded a comfortable 6-2 6-3 victory over seventh seed Caroline Garcia.

It will be a ninth meeting for the two players and a third on clay.

Ukrainian, Elina Svitolina stayed on course for a title defense with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Angelique Kerber in what is a sixth straight victory against the German. Svitolina will now play Anett Kontaveit, who thrashed world no. 2 Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1.

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