Rafael Nadal wont win a 10th title in Rome.
Playing in his first event since late February due to the pandemic, the world No. 2 was upset by Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, 6-2, 7-5 in the Rome quarterfinals. Nadal had been 9-0 against the 5-foot-7 Schwartzman, dropping only two sets before Saturdays match, and had won Rome nine times. It was Nadals first loss on clay since the Madrid semifinals in 2019 (Stefanos Tsitsipas).
He played a great match, I think, and not me, Nadal said. When this happens you have to lose. These things can happen after such a long time without competing.
No. 8 Schwartzman advanced to meet No. 12 Denis Shapovalov of Canada, who prevailed over No. 15 Grigor Dimitrov, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.
World No. 1 and four-time Italian Open champion Novak Djokovic is on the other side of the draw and could have faced Nadal in the final, but now that wont happen. Djokovic advanced to the semis earlier Saturday with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Dominik Koepfer of Germany. Djokovic will play Casper Ruud of Norway in the other semifinal.
Nadal opted to skip the U.S. Open earlier this month to focus on the clay court season. He will now return to Spain to train before seeking a 13th French Open title and 20th Grand Slam crown when Roland Garros begins Sept. 27. Nadal has never won the French Open without first winning a warm-up tournament on clay.
After dropping the first set, Nadal was broken for 3-4 when he hit a forehand drop shot that hit the net.
He then broke back immediately for 4-4, but Schwartman broke again with a forehand passing shot for a 5-4 lead.
After Nadal again broke back for 5-all, Schwartzman broke for a third consecutive time for 6-5 with a backhand passing shot. Nadal was broken five times in the match.
Schwartzman then closed it out on his serve, winning with a forehand volley put away.