Spanish tennis superstar Rafael Nadal was happy that he managed to claim a straight-set win over Reilly Opelka as he claimed he expected a tough battle against the American. Nadal, ranked at No. 3 in the world, handed a 6-4 6-4 loss to the big-serving American in the Rome Masters semifinal.
Nadal saved four break points in the fourth game of the first set, before claiming the first break of the match in the fifth game. Opelka saved three break points in the seventh game but Nadal held on to his serve the rest of the set to claim the opener.
Nadal then broke Opelka in the third game of the second set and then held on to his serve the rest of the way to book a straight-set win. “I did the thing that I had to do today,” Nadal said in his post-match interview.
“It is not an easy, beautiful match to play and, [against] a player like Reilly, [you aren’t going to] have rhythm. You know you are going to have just a few options on your return and you know he can play very aggressive from the baseline.
That is what happened at the beginning of the match. He had some options [for the] break and it was super important for me to save those moments”.
Nadal plays Novak Djokovic in the Rome final
“I did a lot of things well [and played with a] good spirit during all the week,” Nadal said.
“[There are] a lot of positive things I did on court this week and it is important for my confidence to be back in such an important final like this one”. In the second semifinal, world No. 1 Djokovic handed a 6-3 6-7 (5) 6-2 loss to home favorite Lorenzo Sonego.
Djokovic had two match points on his serve in the 12th game of the second set but failed to close out the match. However, Djokovic dominated the third set to avoid a shock loss. "!I bounced back very well after the second set, he had 0-40 in the first game, it could've been different.
But I had chances as well, I only have myself to blame for not closing in straight sets," Djokovic said. "I need to recover, that's what I have to focus on. I don't have much time and I've played a lot. I hope I will have fresh legs, that is necessary in order to have a chance against Rafa."