Zverev, Isner Meet In Rome SF Saturday; Thiem Awaits Djokovic-Del Potro Winner
The trio of No. 8 seed Dominic Thiem, No. 16 seed Alexander Zverev and unseeded John Isner are making their semi-final debut in Rome on Saturday. The other semi-finalist will be the winner of No. 2 Novak Djokovic and unseeded Juan Martin del Potro. Djokovic was leading the last QF match 6-1, 1-2 when play was suspended by rain Friday night.
- IF Djokovic reaches the semi-finals, it will be the 13th consecutive year (since 2005) Djokovic and/or Nadal have reached the SFs in Rome. It would also be Djokovic’s eighth Rome semi-final, a round he’s never lost in (7-0). One or both of them have reached the final the past 12 years (combining to win 11 titles from 2005-15). The last time there were three first-time semi-finalists in Rome was 2008 with Djokovic, Radek Stepanek and Stan Wawrinka
- IF del Potro reaches the semi-finals, it will mark the first time since 2004 that Djokovic or Nadal will not be in the SFs in Rome. It will also be del Potro’s first Rome semi-final. The last time all four players were first-time semi-finalists in Rome was 1992 with Carlos Costa, Jim Courier, Petr Korda and Carl-Uwe Steeb. It would also be the first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final with all four players trying to win a first Masters 1000 title since 2012 Paris-Bercy with David Ferrer, Jerzy Janowicz, Michael Llodra and Gilles Simon. Ferrer beat Janowicz in the final and that was the last time a non-Big Four player was in the title match, a span of 40 consecutive ATP Masters 1000 tournaments .
In the first semi-final, Zverev brings a 2-0 head-to-head record against Isner. The #NextGenATP star won both meetings at ATP Masters 1000 tournaments, 64 62 in the 1R of Shanghai last October and 67 76 76 (saving 3 MPs) in the 3R of Miami on Mar. 27. Isner, who leads the tournament with 93 aces, is the first American to reach the Rome semi-finals since Andy Roddick (l. to Wawrinka) in 2008. He is trying to become the first American to reach the final/win the title since Andre Agassi in 2002 (d. Haas). Isner is appearing in his eighth ATP Masters 1000 semi-final (3-4), the first on clay. The 20-year-old Zverev is the youngest Rome semi-finalist since 2006 when Nadal (19) won the title. He is trying to become the youngest ATP Masters 1000 finalist since Djokovic (19) won 2007 Miami. Zverev is the first German in the SFs since Haas, who was the 2002 finalist.
In the next semi-final, Thiem will be in pursuit of his first win against Djokovic (0-4) or del Potro (0-2). The 23-year-old Austrian broke Nadal’s 17-match winning streak on Friday with a 64 63 victory. Last week Thiem advanced to his first ATP Masters 1000 (SF) and final in Madrid (l. to Nadal). He is the first Austrian to reach the Rome semi-finals since Thomas Muster, who went on to capture the title in 1996 (d. Krajicek). If Djokovic reaches his eighth semi-final (7-0), he will attempt to reach his eighth Rome final (4-3). He won titles in 2008, 2011, 2014-15. Djokovic would also eye a record 31st ATP Masters 1000 title and 68th overall in his career. His last title came in Doha in the opening week of 2017 (d. Murray). Del Potro is attempting to reach his 10th ATP Masters 1000 SF (3-6). His last SF came in 2013 Shanghai where he was runner-up (l. to Djokovic). He is 0-3 in Masters 1000 finals. The 28-year-old Tandil native is 19-8 in career finals and his last title came in Stockholm in October 2016 (d. Sock). The last Argentine to reach the SFs in Rome was David Nalbandian in 2006 (l. to Federer).