Rafael Nadal labelled the Italian Open court as “dangerous” after he suffered a brief injury scare in his quarter-final win over Alexander Zverev at the Masters 1000 event in Rome.
Nadal got revenge on his Madrid Open loss to the German in the last eight last week and snapped a three-match losing streak against Zverev, winning 6-3, 6-4.
But the 20-time Grand Slam champion, looking to add to his Barcelona Open triumph with victory in Rome ahead of the French Open at the end of the month, took a fall on his left shoulder in the first set against Zverev.
The Spaniard was in visible pain but recovered to see out the match comfortably enough in two hours at Foro Italico, saving all eight break points he faced in the second set.
His victory sets him up with a semi-final against American Reilly Opelka as he continues his bid for a 10th Italian Open triumph.
Speaking to Amazon Prime Video after beating Zverev, he said: “It was very clear what happened. Some lines are higher than the rest of the court so when you touch the line it’s dangerous. That’s it.”
He added: “Yeah I’m happy. I think I played a very solid match with not many mistakes, playing the way I have to. Important victory for me again against a great player.
“I’m happy. Semi-finals here in Rome one more time, confidence for myself and another victory against a great player so very pleased.
“I think I played more solid than in Madrid. At the same time conditions are different.
“In Madrid he was able to create a lot of damage with his serve and then with the first shot here, the situation is a little bit different, a little bit more normal conditions on the clay.
“I was able to control the game a little bit more than in Madrid where the ball was flying a lot and it was difficult to be under control. At the same time the main thing is that I played well.”
Pundit and former British No 1 Greg Rusedski reflected: “Sascha will definitely be kicking himself about those break point opportunities but the start of the match was huge.
“You don’t spot Rafa four-love. He’s not going to lose a set with that. The first set was so key.
“We were all concerned in the first set when Rafa fell down on his left shoulder, ‘Is he alright?’ There was a huge concern the way he grimaces on the ground but he was alright.
“He played the key points that much better.”
Daniela Hantuchova added: “He had to be really good because Sascha was like in Madrid playing his best tennis. Ten break point opportunities and only using one, he’s going be to disappointed.
“Other than that I thought he played brilliant. In a couple of the rallies I felt he should have gone for it a little earlier because the longer the rallies the more the advantage for Rafa but I thought it was such a quality match.
“Rafa will be pleased with that. He’s not going to lose to the same player twice in back-to-back weeks.”