Tennis: Djokovic to meet Nadal for 54th time with Rome title at stake

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates his victory over Argentina's Diego Schwartzman at the end of their ATP Masters tournament semi-final tennis match at the Foro Italico camp in Rome, on May 18, 2019.
Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates his victory over Argentina's Diego Schwartzman at the end of their ATP Masters tournament semi-final tennis match at the Foro Italico camp in Rome, on May 18, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

ROME (AFP) - Top seed Novak Djokovic set up a final showdown with second-ranked Rafael Nadal at the Italian Open on Saturday (May 18) after battling past Argentina's Diego Schwartzman in the semi-final.

World number one Djokovic - winner at the Madrid Open last weekend - came through 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 6-3 in 2hr 31min to meet defending champion Nadal, who earlier swept past Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Nadal, 32, had lost the Madrid semi-final to Tsitsipas but the 17-time Grand Slam winner advanced 6-3, 6-4 in 1hr 42min to reach his 11th final in Rome.

Nadal has not dropped a set this week while Djokovic needed to save to two match points before getting past Juan Martin Del Potro on Friday night.

The only time eight-time Rome winner Nadal has lost on the red clay of the Foro Italico has been to four-time winner Djokovic.

The pair who have meet four times in the Rome final and are 2-2 in previous meetings.

Sunday's match will also be their 54th meeting with Djokovic leading 28-25.