Rafael Nadal

Rome, May 17 (IANS) Spanish tennis star and World No.4 Rafael Nadal reached the third round of the Rome Masters after compatriot Nicolas Almagro pulled out due to injury here on Wednesday.

Almagro was trailing 0-3 to Nadal, a record seven-time champion, when he decided to withdraw due to a left knee injury, reports Efe.

The 30-year-old Nadal is set to play the next round against the winner of the duel between American Jack Sock and Czech Jiri Vesely.

This was the first appearance of the former world number one after winning his fifth Madrid Open crown last week, following his tenth Monte Carlo and Barcelona Open titles, also a record.

Nadal is hoping that his spark continues in the Rome Masters, the last big tournament before Roland Garros, where he has won a record nine times.

Earlier late on Tuesday, defending champion Andy Murray was eliminated after losing 6-2, 6-4 to Fabio Fognini in a second round match.

The Scotsman and current world No. 1 took the title here last year without losing a set, but has yet to return to top form after coming back from an elbow injury.

Italy’s Fognini, who is ranked 29th in the world, was the clear favorite among the crowd at the Campo Centrale on Tuesday.

The 29-year-old underdog broke Murray’s serve early and jumped out to a 4-0 lead on the way to winning the first set 6-2.

The 30-year-old Murray trailed 1-4 in the second set before breaking Fognini’s serve and battling back to 4-5, but the Italian hung on to win the set and the match.

Meanwhile, Spanish tennis star David Ferrer defeated compatriot Feliciano Lopez 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 to become the 13th player in ATP World Tour history to reach the milestone 700 match wins.

Ferrer now joins fellow countryman Rafael Nadal (840) to reach the 700 win mark in a table led by American Jimmy Connors, who has triumphed 1,256 times.

“The number indicates that I have been a very consistent player over many years and many matches,” Ferrer said after Tuesday night’s match in which he won after losing the first part against Feliciano Lopez.

The tennis player from Valencia, aged 35, is unbeaten against Feliciano in matches played on clay.

“It’s a very big figure, very difficult to achieve. I am very proud and humbled by the achievement. If someone had told me at the start of my career that I would be in this situation, I wouldn’t have believed it,” added Ferrer, who is going to meet Japanese world number nine Kei Nishikori in the round of 16 of the Rome Masters.

Also on Tuesday night, Spanish player Pablo Carreno made a great start in the Rome Masters with a solid 6-3, 6-3 victory over Frenchman Gilles Simon.

In a match that lasted one hour and 16 minutes on Tuesday evening, the world no. 21 advanced to the second round of the tournament.

The two players have clashed three times before with Carreno achieving a victory once (Estoril 2016 quarter-finals) and Simon twice (Madrid and Shanghai, both in 2016).

In the second round, the Spaniard will meet the winner in the match between his compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut and Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov.

 

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