Nadal, Djokovic, Murray reach QFs; Wawrinka exits Rome

 

The Sports Network

Rome, Italy (SportsNetwork.com) - Seven-time champion Rafael Nadal, two- time winner Novak Djokovic and birthday boy Andy Murray moved into the quarterfinals, while Australian Open titlist Stan Wawrinka was sent packing Thursday at the $4 million Italian Open, an ATP Masters 1000 event.

Nadal will meet Murray in a blockbuster quarterfinal on Friday.

The world No. 1 Nadal dropped a first-set tiebreak before charging back to blitz 14th-seeded Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-1 in 2 hours, 44 minutes. A tested Nadal has played more then six hours of tennis over the last two days.

Fresh off his Masters title in Madrid last week, the Spanish great has appeared in eight Rome finals and nailed down his seventh championship here a year ago by beating Roger Federer in a marquee final.

Meanwhile, game German Philipp Kohlschreiber raced out to a 4-0 lead en route to winning the opening set against Djokovic, but the super Serb took control of things from there in a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 decision. Djokovic's round-of-eight opponent will be fifth-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer.

Djokovic titled here in 2008 and 2011 and was the Rome runner-up in 2009 and 2012.

Ageless 15th-seeded German Tommy Haas upended the third-seeded recent Monte Carlo Masters champ Wawrinka 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 on Day 5 on the red clay at Foro Italico.

The oldest player in this year's draw, the 36-year-old Haas was a Rome runner- up back in 2002.

He hadn't beaten a top-10 player since upsetting a then No. 1 Djokovic in Miami more than a year ago.

"These things don't happen too often anymore so I still take them and I'm really proud of them," Haas said.

The 2008 Rome runner-up Wawrinka was slowed by a back injury.

"I couldn't move too well," he said. "It's really nothing serious. It's just painful and I need some rest -- maybe a few days.

"He's a really good player. He [Haas] has a good serve, he can come to the net and he has touch. We all know how he plays. He's been there for a while."

The seventh-seeded Murray, who turned 27 on Thursday, avoided a third-round upset by dousing veteran Austrian left-hander Jurgen Melzer 7-6 (7-1), 6-4.

Murray will meet Nadal for a 19th time on the ATP World Tour, with the mighty Spaniard leading the Scot in their all-time series, 13-5. The two stars haven't met since 2011, when Murray beat Nadal in a hardcourt finale in Tokyo.

Last year's French Open runner-up to Nadal, Ferrer, eased into the round of eight with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Latvian Ernests Gulbis. Ferrer was the Rome runner-up in 2010.

Also on Thursday, 12th-seeded rising Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov ousted sixth- seeded former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych 6-7 (3-7), 6-2, 6-2, eighth-seeded Canadian slugger Milos Raonic handled 11th-seeded former Aussie Open runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 and France's Jeremy Chardy drilled Croat Ivan Dodig 6-3, 6-2. Chardy stunned the three-time Rome finalist Federer on Wednesday.

Friday's other quarters will pit Raonic versus Chardy and Dimitrov against Haas.

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