No. 2 Novak Djokovic faces Fernando Verdasco in quarterfinals of Rome Masters

By Andrew Dampf, AP
Thursday, April 29, 2010

Djokovic to meet Verdasco in Rome quarters

ROME — Novak Djokovic will play Fernando Verdasco in the quarterfinals of the Rome Masters after both players won in straight sets Thursday.

The second-ranked Djokovic dropped his serve once in each set and defeated Thomaz Bellucci 6-4, 6-4, while Verdasco edged Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-4, 7-6 (2) to improve his record to 13-2 on clay this year.

Andy Murray and Robin Soderling both lost at the Foro Italico.

David Ferrer earned his tour-best 21st win on clay this year, stopping Murray 6-3, 6-4. Stanislas Wawrinka, the 2008 runner-up, took out Soderling 6-3, 6-2.

“I didn’t make enough returns and his serve had a very high percentage,” said Murray, who failed to convert all three of his break points. “That was a big disappointment that I wasn’t able to convert more break-point opportunities — that’s usually the best part of my game.”

Murray has never won more than two matches at this warmup for the French Open, which begins May 23.

Wawrinka will face either Rafael Nadal or No. 39 Victor Hanescu, who play in the night match.

Djokovic will look to avenge his defeat to Verdasco in the semifinals of the Monte Carlo Masters two weeks ago.

“I’ve played a lot of matches against him on different surfaces and I’ve won most of them,” Djokovic said of his 5-3 record against Verdasco.

Djokovic said the Monte Carlo match “wasn’t a real picture of my game. I didn’t feel good on the court and made a lot of unforced errors.”

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also advanced by beating Colombian qualifier Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 6-4, while Ernests Gulbis followed up his upset win over Roger Federer with a 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (4) victory over Italian wild-card Filippo Volandri and a partisan crowd.

The 21-year-old Gulbis will meet Feliciano Lopez, who advanced when 11th-seeded Ivan Ljubicic aggravated a muscle in his side during the pre-match warmup.

Djokovic got in just 57 percent of his first serve attempts, but committed half as many unforced errors against the 28th-ranked Bellucci.

“I was down a break every set and it wasn’t easy to get back on serve,” Djokovic said. “He served well — very accurately — and got a lot of free points.”

Djokovic is aiming to reach his third consecutive final in Rome, winning in 2008 and losing to Rafael Nadal last year.

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