Tennis  

Venus Williams out, Nadal rolls on at Rome Open

USA’s Venus Williams returns the ball to Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit during Rome’s WTA Tennis Open tournament at the Foro Italico, on May 17, 2018 in Rome. Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Venus Williams crashed out in a third round defeat by Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, 6/2; 7/6(3) at the on-going Rome Open Tennis Championship. In a match that was preceded with great expectations for an upset, Rafael Nadal nevertheless advanced by dismissing fellow southpaw, Denis Shapovolov of Canada 6/4; 6/1.

Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta defeated Serbia’s Aljaz Bedene 6/4; 6/7(3); 6/2, while hometown favourite Fabio Fognini outplayed the young German Peter Gojowcsyk 6/2; 6/2.

The older Williams’ sister has maintained a steady form this clay-court season with performances that enabled her retain her ranking in the top 10.

In the match with the 22-year-old player ranked 26 on the WTA tour, Venus lost the first set 2-6. She rallied in the second drawing on her vast experience but the 37-year-old star lost the second set tiebreak by seven points to three.

Meanwhile, 11th-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany defeated Maria Sakkari of Greece 6/1; 6/1.

Rafael Nadal has problems playing against felt-handed opponents. His lethal crosscourt forehand used to pull opponents off the court, is easily handled by southpaws on their forehand that could be struck down the line or crosscourt. The Nadal/Shapovalov match took off as expected with the Canadian winning his service game and Nadal holding to level one game apiece. The third game was the battle of the encounter.

After taking the first point to lead 15-0 on his serve, Shapovalov dropped the next three and faced two game points. He saved the first break point and delivered an ace serve to deuce. Nadal had the advantage point four times while Shapovalov had one before taking the game on his second opportunity, to win and take a 2-1 lead; his only time in the match.

Nadal leveled at two-all and later got the crucial break to lead 4-3. Serving at 3-5 to stay in the set, Shapovalov fell behind 0-30 when Nadal hammered a return of first serve for a winner.

However, he leveled and reached 40-30 but at a serve that was called out was over-ruled by the chair umpire after a ball mark inspection. The Canadian got the ace and the game. His hope was dashed when Nadal held serve to win the game and set 6/4.

Shapovalov held serve to lead 1-0 in the second set and Nadal leveled. Any hope of resurgence began to diminish when Nadal broke his opponents to take the third game. A second break gave him a 4-1 lead. In the sixth game, Nadal was up 40-0 but Denis reduced the tally. After a long rally at 40-30, game point, another ball mark inspection handed the game to Nadal for 5-1. The 29th ranked player was behind 15-30 but delivered an ace to level. A double-fault offered Nadal the first match point but a service winner annulled it.

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