Rome, May 18 (AP/UNB) — Rafael Nadal put away Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-0 at the Italian Open on Friday to reach the semifinals after conceding only six games in his six sets of tennis at the tournament.
Yet he ought to be a little nervous.
Nadal has fallen in the semifinals of his last three tournaments — all on his favored clay. And next up is Stefanos Tsitsipas, whom Nadal lost to in Madrid last week.
"I know what happened last week, and I (am) going to try to do it better tomorrow," Nadal said. "I have to hold the level or increase a little bit more. If that happens, I (am) going to have my chances. The good thing is during the last month my feeling is every week was better than the previous one."
Tsitsipas, 20, is up to No. 7 in the rankings.
"Every year, we make (a) prediction with the team which player is going to be at the top 10 at the end of the season," Nadal said. "I put Tsitsipas there. ... He started even better than what I (expected). He deserves to be where he is now."
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic outlasted Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4 in an entertaining slugfest that lasted more than three hours and finished after 1 a.m. local time at the Foro Italico.
Djokovic saved a match point in the second-set tiebreaker and was frustrated at times, receiving a warning for slamming his racket to the clay early in the third. But the Serb regained his composure and closed it out by serving an ace on his first match point.
Djokovic next faces Diego Schwartzman, who beat Kei Nishikori for the first time in four tries, 6-4, 6-2, to reach his first Masters Series semifinal.
Meanwhile, Roger Federer and top-ranked Naomi Osaka withdrew before their quarterfinals because of injuries.
Federer reported a right leg injury ahead of his match against Tsitsipas, and Osaka said she'd mysteriously woken up with a sore right hand ahead of her scheduled match against Kiki Bertens.
On the women's side, Karolina Pliskova rallied past former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-2 and will face qualifier Maria Sakkari, who came back to beat Kristina Mladenovic 5-7, 6-3, 6-0.
Bertens, who won the Madrid Open last week, will face Johanna Konta, who beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.
Although Osaka won both of her matches on Thursday in straight sets, Federer, 37, had to labor for more than 2 ½ hours to overcome Borna Coric in his second time on court.
Federer said after beating Coric that he slid on a wet line and his leg "was hurting a little bit."
"I am disappointed that I will not be able to compete today. I am not 100 percent physically and, after consultation with my team, it was determined that I not play," Federer said. "Rome has always been one of my favorite cities to visit and I hope to be back next year."
Later, Federer wrote on Instagram: "The fan reaction and crowd energy during my matches yesterday remind exactly why I am still competing on the ATP Tour."
It's only the fourth time in Federer's career he has had a walkover loss, the ATP Tour said, adding the 20-time Grand Slam champion has never retired in 1,465 matches.
Osaka couldn't immediately say how serious her injury is or if it will affect her status for Roland Garros, which starts in nine days. She had yet to see a doctor, but when she held her hand up for reporters, it was clearly swollen.
"I woke up this morning and couldn't really move my thumb," Osaka said. "I tried to practice and grip my racket but I couldn't, and I kept feeling this pain when I tried to move my hand in different directions."
Osaka's win on Thursday guaranteed she will remain No. 1 going into the French Open.
"I didn't feel anything yesterday. That's why I'm kind of confused right now because I literally woke up in the morning and couldn't move my thumb," Osaka said. "So I was like, 'Maybe I slept on it and maybe it will go away.' But it didn't."
Osaka also withdrew before a semifinal in Stuttgart, Germany, last month due to an abdominal injury, and she retired from her previous meeting with Bertens at last year's WTA Finals with a leg injury.
"I feel like the ab thing could have been helped, but this one I don't think I could have helped it because I don't know what caused it," Osaka said. "I don't know why I have it."
Dhaka, May 17 (UNB)– The Walton International Rating Chess Tournament 2019 (Open) will begin here on May 23 at the Chess Federation hall-room of National Sports Council.
The tournament will follow eight-round Swiss-League system.
Walton will award the winners with its accessories and prize money.
Interested chess players of any age can enroll their names on May 22 at Bangladesh Chess Federation office.
London, May 17 (AP/UNB) — Two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray received his knighthood from Prince Charles on Thursday, more than two years after he was awarded the honor by Queen Elizabeth II.
Murray was dubbed by the Prince of Wales during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, in recognition of his services to tennis and charity.
The knighthood was announced in the queen's 2016 New Year Honors list after a year in which he won a second Wimbledon title, retained his Olympic singles crown and finished the season as No. 1 in the rankings.
Recipients are allowed to choose when to collect their honor, and the delay was due to a combination of Murray's hectic schedule and the effect of the knighthood ceremony on his career-threatening hip problem.
Murray announced during a tearful news conference at the Australian Open in January that he plans to retire after Wimbledon this year due to the pain in the joint.
Murray, who turned 32 on Wednesday, has since had a hip resurfacing operation and it's still unclear whether he can play at this year's Wimbledon.
After Thursday's ceremony, Murray issued a statement saying: "I'm very proud to receive it. It's a nice day to spend with my family — my wife and parents are here. I'd have liked to (have brought) my kids but I think they're a bit young. I'll show them the medal when I get home."
Murray and his wife Kim are parents of 3-year-old Sophia Olivia and 18-month-old Edie.
The Scot won his first Wimbledon title in 2013, ending Britain's 77-year wait for a male singles champion at the grass-court Grand Slam.
May 16 (AP/UNB) -Two-time French Open champion Maria Sharapova pulled out of the year's second Grand Slam tournament on Tuesday because of her surgically repaired right shoulder.
Sharapova announced her withdrawal on Instagram.
"Sometimes the right decisions aren't always the easiest ones," she wrote.
She said she has returned to practice and is "slowly building the strength back" in her shoulder.
The former No. 1 and owner of five major titles hasn't competed anywhere since late January, when she withdrew from a tournament in Russia after winning her opening match there. In February, she said she had a "small procedure" on her shoulder, which was painful since last year because of a fraying tendon and small labrum tear.
During a recent interview at the Italian Open, International Tennis Hall of Fame member Nick Bollettieri said Sharapova is at his academy "right now, training."
Asked whether Sharapova is contemplating retirement, the coach responded: "Not yet. I think she's going to give it one more shot."
Play begins at the French Open on May 26. The 32-year-old Sharapova won the title at Roland Garros in 2012 to complete a career Grand Slam and collected the trophy at the clay-court major again in 2014.
That was the last time she won a Grand Slam tournament.
Since then, the Russian has been only an occasional participant in the sport's four most prestigious events: This French Open will mark the eighth time in a span of 20 majors that she has been absent.
Sharapova was sidelined for 15 months by a doping suspension after failing a drug test at the Australian Open in January 2016, then returned to the tour in April 2017 with a ranking too low to get into Grand Slam events. The French Open denied her a wild-card invitation, then she planned to try to qualify for Wimbledon before pulling out because of an injured left leg.
Her right shoulder has been an issue over the years.
She cut her 2018 season short in September because of problems with it.
Sharapova originally had surgery on the shoulder in 2008 and was off the tour for about 10 months. She skipped the 2013 U.S. Open because of that shoulder, too.
Dhaka, May 15 (UNS) – The Walton 39th National Junior (Under-20) Chess Championships (Open and Girls) began at the Chess Federation hall-room of National Sports Council here on Wednesday.
Dr Md Jafar Uddin, Secretary in Charge of Youth and Sports Ministry inaugurated the meet as the chief guest.
FM Iqbal Bin Anwar (Dawn), Executive Director of Walton Group and Zahirul Islam Tutul, Head of Programme of Radia Today were also present as special guests at the function, with KM Shahidullah Vice President of Bangladesh Chess Federation in chair.
Twelve players won their 1st round games in the girls section.
They are: WCM Noshin Anjum, Warsia Khusbu, Ahmed Walijah, Kazi Zarin Tasnim, Jannatul Ferdousi, Israt Jahan Diba, Nusrat Jahan Alo, Tasnia Tarannum Orpa, Wadifa Ahmed, Shanjida Shakil, Muysfica Zannat Sawri and Nusrat Jahan Moni.
A total of 32 players including FM Mophammad Fahad Rahman, CM Subrota Biswas, Nayem Haque, Swarnavo Chowdhury, Yasir Ali Khan Evana, Sadnan Hasan Dian, Dibakar Dibya won their 1st round games in Open section.
A total of 64 players from Dhaka city and 25 districts are participating in Open section while 24 players are participating in Girls section.
The 2nd round games will begin on Thursday from 2pm at the same venue.