Novak Djokovic takes on Juan Martin del Potro as part of a blockbuster quarter-final lineup at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. The day session saw Rafael Nadal win an all-Spanish affair over Fernando Verdasco and Diego Schwartzman reach his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final over Kei Nishikori. Roger Federer withdrew ahead of his match against Stefanos Tsitsipas due to a leg injury.
World No. 1 Djokovic leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Del Potro 15-4. He’s won their past five matches and all three of their previous meetings on clay. The Serbian has been ruthless so far in Rome, dropping just seven games in his first two rounds. He’ll look to continue his pattern of stepping up against the world’s best. Djokovic is 18-1 against Top 10 players since Wimbledon 2018.
Djokovic and Del Potro have faced off twice before in Rome (2009 and 2017), with both meetings also coming at the quarter-final juncture and Djokovic winning each time in straight sets.
“With that serve and forehand, it doesn’t really matter what surface you play on. It’s quite a weapon that he has,” said Djokovic of the Argentine. “He’s very tall and uses that height really well. He’s very smart with the way he moves around the court.
“It’s going to be a great challenge. We had battles throughout our careers. I love him as a person. He’s a lovely guy, really nice guy. It’s unfortunate that he struggled throughout his career with injuries. But he’s always, in my eyes, one of the best players in the world.”
Del Potro is up and running again this week, scoring his first two wins since February as he continues his comeback from a fractured right kneecap sustained last October at the Rolex Shanghai Masters. The World No. 9 in the ATP Rankings seeks his 11th win over a World No. 1 and first clay-court Masters 1000 semi-final in seven years.
ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY MAY 17, 2019
CENTRALE start 12:00 noon
Not Before 2:30 pm
ATP – Fernando Verdasco (ESP) vs  Rafael Nadal (ESP)
Not Before 7:30 pm
Not Before 9:00 pm
ATP –  Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs  Juan Martin del Potro (ARG)
GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
ATP –  Raven Klaasen (RSA) / Michael Venus (NZL) vs Maximo Gonzalez (ARG) / Horacio Zeballos (ARG)
Not Before 1:30 pm
ATP – Diego Schwartzman (ARG) vs  Kei Nishikori (JPN)
PIETRANGELI start 11:00 am
Not Before 2:30 pm
ATP –  Juan Sebastian Cabal (COL) / Robert Farah (COL) vs  Bob Bryan (USA) / Mike Bryan (USA)
COURT 1 start Not Before 3:00 pm
ATP – Court & Time TBA – Guido Pella (ARG) / Diego Schwartzman (ARG) vs  Henri Kontinen (FIN) / John Peers (AUS)
ATP – Court & TBA –  Lukasz Kubot (POL) / Marcelo Melo (BRA) vs Guido Pella (ARG) / Diego Schwartzman (ARG) or  Henri Kontinen (FIN) / John Peers (AUS)
COURT 2 start 12:00 noon
Two WTA matches
Not Before 4:00 pm
ATP – Court & Time TBA –  Oliver Marach (AUT) / Mate Pavic (CRO) vs Denis Shapovalov (CAN) / Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
ATP – Court & TBA –  Oliver Marach (AUT) / Mate Pavic (CRO) or Denis Shapovalov (CAN) / Fernando Verdasco (ESP) vs Kyle Edmund (GBR) / Neal Skupski (GBR)