Italian Open: Nadal downs Tsitsipas to reach 50th Masters final

This week, Rafael Nadal sent a clear and unmistakable message to the tennis world that he is still the one and the only true King of Clay.

Rafael Nadal progressed to his 50th Masters 1000 final with a 6-3 6-4 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas on Saturday as British number one Johanna Konta also triumphed in the Italian Open semi-finals.

The Spaniard will meet the victor of world number one Novak Djokovic's clash with Diego Schwartzman on Sunday.

The timing for Nadal's return to form could not have been more opportune, as he will seek a record-extending 12th title at the French Open starting next weekend.

"But my feeling, especially after my loss against (Dominic) Thiem in the semi-finals of Barcelona, I think my personal feeling improved and my energy came back a little bit".

Djokovic, who won Madrid, had said prior to that final that he wanted to test his game against Nadal, widely regarded as the greatest clay-court player.

"I don't want to talk about fatigue or things like that", Djokovic told the crowd during the post-match ceremony.

"He used it very well, he's been playing some terrific tennis throughout the entire week and he was just too strong".

To tumultuous acclaim from the capacity crowd, Djokovic forged his first break point opportunity of the match in the fourth game of the second set, but a magnificent, whirling forehand into the corner from Nadal soon eradicated it. But Bertens double-faulted to let Konta serve for the second set and Konta got an early break in the third.

Pliskova, the 2017 French Open semifinalist, clinched her 13th career title, in the final major warm-up tournament on clay before Roland Garros starts on May 26.

While the former cruised into the final, Djokovic had been forced to come through a series of demanding contests and that appeared to be a factor as he was clinically dismantled in a one-sided opening set.

"It's always a special match against Novak, he's having a great season, winning in Australia, Madrid and in the final here". "I won a lot of my first junior titles, first professional titles on clay".

"The greatest fighter we've ever known in our sport so he is going to find a way to get back to his best", Rusedski said on Amazon Prime. "That's important for me", he said.

"After Indian Wells, there have been some tough moments for me in terms of recovering again", he said.

Karolina Pliskova beat Greek qualifier Maria Sakkari in the other semifinal, 6-4, 6-4. Then in the next game, Konta ran down a drop shot and produced an angled victor. I know she loved this tournament.