Nadal steamrolls Verdasco over to reach Rome Masters semifinal
World no. 2 and eight-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal is through to the semi-final for the 12th time in the Italian capital after a 6-4, 6-0 win over Fernando Verdasco in an hour and 38 minutes.
Facing each other for the 20th time, Rafa delivered the 17th triumph over Fernando, overcoming a slow start to grab the 375th Masters 1000 triumph and the 59th in Rome, staying on the course for the first title in 2019.
Nadal forged the victory with 17 winners and 13 unforced errors, leaving Verdasco on an 18-23 ratio and dominating in the shortest and mid-range exchanges to sail towards the finish line and another deep run at one of his favorite events.
Struggling on the second serve, Nadal was forced to play against nine break points, fending off eight of those to limit the damage in his game and challenging Verdasco to repeat that if he wanted to chase the win in his first Masters 1000 quarter-final since the end of 2017.
Despite a promising start, the veteran was unable to follow Nadal's pace, giving away almost 60% of the points behind the initial shot and suffering five breaks from eight chances offered to the compatriot.
Verdasco was ready to play all-or-nothing shots right from the start, staying aggressive and breaking Nadal in the very first game of the match with a forehand down the line winner.
The older Spaniard saved two break points in the next game to confirm the break and had another chance to extend the lead, netting a backhand on a break point and wasting a chance to go 3-0 up.
Nadal managed to break back in game six despite three game points for Fernando, leveling the score at 3-3 and settling into a nice rhythm before the second part of the set.
Verdasco had the opportunity to move in front again at 4-4, earning three break points that Rafa erased one by one to avoid the setback and gather the momentum before game ten when he broke at 15 after a terrible forehand from Fernando, securing the opener 6-4 in grueling 61 minutes.
As was expected, Verdasco faded from the court after that and suffered a bagel in set number two where Nadal had all the advantage on his side.
The defending champion broke in game two when Fernando sprayed a backhand error, saving three break points in the next game and racing into a 4-0 lead with a backhand down the line winner that gave him another break.
Rafa held at love and sealed the deal with a break at 15 in game six to march into the semi-final, his fourth in a row on clay this spring, still waiting to reach the first final.