This content was published 13 years ago. It may refer to a past edition of the Internazionali d’Italia.
Gulbis in night session as Djokovic – Verdasco open proceedings in the afternoon
Eight players are left, five of them seeds, and all of them looking for a semi-final berth. Friday will see all four Internazionali BNL d’Italia quarter-finals, all on centre court throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
Each of the four ties is finely poised, and none more so than the opening one. 2008 champion and 2009 finalist Novak Djokovic is such a solid player on hard courts that his prowess on clay is often overlooked. World No.9 Fernando Verdasco however has the advantage of having defeated the Serb on the red stuff last month in the semi-final of the ATP Masters in Monte Carlo, with the 6-2, 6-2 scoreline suggesting that he knew how to move his opponent left and right, back and forth on this, the slowest of surfaces.
Next up are Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and David Ferrer. The French No.7 seed struggled mightily to overcome Colombian qualifier Santiago Giraldo on Thursday, primarily due to the fact that his first serve refused to click. His opponent had no such worries, dispatching No.4 seed Andy Murray will clinical ease, his inside-out forehands a pleasure to watch. If Tsonga is not firing on all cylinders on Friday, he could well find himself condemned to the same fate as the Scotsman.
Reigning champion Rafael Nadal will conclude the afternoon’s proceedings, but not as many expected (indeed hoped) against Robin Soderling. Rome spectators and tennis fans in general were denied a French Open 2009 rematch after Stanislas Wawrinka handed the Swede a third round thrashing that was as sound as it was unexpected. The “other Swiss” player is, by his own admission, consistently inconsistent, but in two of three matches so far this week (against Soderling and Jurgen Melzer in the first round) he has played some of his best tennis in a long time. This is a man who is at home on red dirt, defeating Federer in straight sets at Monte Carlo in 2009 and reaching the final here in 2008. He has never taken a set off Nadal however, and there will be long odds on him doing so on Friday, let alone eliminating the undisputed king of clay.
Last but not least, the night session has been given to Ernests Gulbis and Feliciano Lopez. The Latvian has become the star of the tournament, defeating Roger Federer in the second round and entertaining one and all with his powerful services and his quirky sound-bites. He will need to be at his best (and more importantly most focused) to defeat the Spaniard, who was given a day off on Thursday when his third round opponent Ivan Ljubicic withdrew due to a side strain. Only five places separate them in the rankings, but the Spanish lefty has more big match experience to call on which could prove invaluable under the centre court lights as the night wears on.