Nadal overcomes crowd and Fognini to reach Rome semifinals

Published 8:49 a.m. ET May 18, 2018 | Updated 12:41 p.m. ET May 18, 2018

ROME (AP) — Seven-time champion Rafael Nadal overcame a poor first set and a partisan crowd to beat Fabio Fognini 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 and reach the Italian Open semifinals on Friday.

Fans at the Foro Italico were decidedly behind Fognini, Italy’s top player, and Nadal was under pressure when Fognini won five straight games to cancel out a 4-1 deficit and win the opening set.

“He played aggressive, a great level of tennis, creating a lot of winners and taking balls earlier,” Nadal said. “I felt the pressure a little bit and played a couple of bad games.”

But Fognini couldn’t keep up with Nadal’s consistency and heavy topspin on the red clay court and eventually was physically worn down.

“I tried to play more with my forehand and when I play aggressive with my forehand the backhand becomes better,” Nadal said. “It’s important to be able to change the tactics of the match.”

Fognini had tape applied under his…

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