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IBI21: ATP THURSDAY RECAP

Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev avoided an upset, Djokovic sailed through. It was a day to remember at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and not only because finally public returned to the Foro Italico, but because they were served some incredible tennis too and a late night surprise, coming by the name of Lorenzo Sonego.

The first quarterfinal to line up today was the one that will see Novak Djokovic facing Stefanos Tsitsipas and it promises to be a spectacular one. The two played different but equally impressive matches that we summed up on this article.

But for one section of the draw that confirmed the “planned” path of the top two seeds, another part would have been difficult to predict from anyone before day one of the tournament: Federico Delbonis and Reilly Opelka will be fighting for a career-first ATP Master 1000 semifinal, as neither has ever gone past the quarters. The Argentine, coming from the qualies, engaged on a tough first set with Canadian youngster Felix Auger-Aliassime, but after coming out as the winner of its tiebreak, the second set easily went his way for a 7-6(3) 6-1 final result.

(Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

A similar scoreline allowed the American to advance past Aslan Karatsev: after a first set with no single break point for either, the Russian had two consecutive chances to close it during the tiebreak, but his 2.11m tall rival had other plans and turned things around. After capturing the tiebreak, Opelka gained the first -and only- break of the match to eventually close the match 7-6(6) 6-4.

Far more lengthy and exhausting matches were needed for Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev to win their matches and qualify for a rematch of the Madrid quarterfinal. Nadal saved two match points before having the better of Denis Shapovalov in three and a half hours. Alexander Zverev, instead, did not face any match points, but had to rally back from one set and a break down in both the second and third set against Kei Nishikori. On a difficult evening for the German, whose serve was shacky and feelings mixed from the back of the court, he managed to fight back by also using the energy of the crowd. The same energy could have proved fundamental for the Japanese player, who looked spent in the final games of the match and little could do to limit the comeback of Madrid champion, who eventually closed the match 4-6 6-3 6-4.

Roma 12 Maggio 2021 Internazionali BNL D’Italia 2021 Alexander Zverev Foto Giampiero Sposito

The final two matches of the day could not be finished with the fans on stands due to curfew and if it meant only a few games spectator-less for Andrey Rublev before closing with a double 6-4 against Roberto Bautista Agut, it was a shame for Dominic Thiem and Lorenzo Sonego, who had engaged on a thrilling three sets battle.

The Italian played what was possilby the best tennis match of his career to save a match point, fight back from a break down in the decider and upset the US Open champion 6-4 6-7(5) 7-6(5).

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