Novak staves off Rafa threat
World number one Novak Djokovic fended off a resurgent Rafael Nadal 7-5 7-6 (4) in a pulsating battle on Friday to reach the semifinals of the Italian Open.
Nadal led 4-2 in the first set and had five set points on serve at 5-4 in the second but Djokovic held firm for a bruising clay-court victory which took two hours 24 minutes.
In the first set, Nadal broke to lead 3-2 but Djokovic recovered to level at 4-4 and then won the first set on his fourth set point. In the second set Nadal broke in the opening game and despite calling the physio because of pain in his left foot, he held his advantage to 5-4. Serving for the set he held five set points but Djokovic saved the lot and broke back, eventually sealing the match on a tiebreak.
Djokovic next meets Kei Nishikori of Japan or Dominic Thiem of Austria.
Earlier, Andy Murray held off a strong fightback from David Goffin to beat the Belgian 6-1 7-5.
In the women's event, last year's Wimbledon runner-up Garbine Muguruza of Spain beat Swiss Timea Bacsinszky 7-5 6-2 to reach the last four.
She plays American Madison Keys who overcame Czech Barbora Strycova 6-4 4-6 6-3.
Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu saw off Misaki Doi of Japan 6-2 7-6 (3) and next faces world number one Serena Williams or Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova.