>> Friday, May 18, 2012
In what could very well be a prelude to the semi-finals of this year's French Open, the top three ATP tennis players plus a Spanish clay court specialist are now through to the last four of Rome's 2012 Internazionali BNL d'Italia at the Foro Italico in Italy's capital city. In a rare occurrence, the world's top two players - no. 1 Novak Djokovic and no. 2 Roger Federer - will battle each other for a spot in the final. On the other side of the draw, the top two Spanish players - no. 3 Rafael Nadal and no. 6 David Ferrer - will go against each other to determine who Spain's representative will be in the finals of the last major tournament tune-up before the second grand slam of the year.
Watch the exciting Rome Masters 2012 men's singles semifinals live online featuring Federer vs Djokovic and Nadal vs Ferrer here.
Federer breezed through local favorite Andreas Seppi 6-1, 6-2 in a late evening match to be the last man through to the final four. Earlier in the day, Djokovic advanced after running away from no. 5-seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second set after a tense first setter - the final score is a 75 61 victory for the top-ranked Serb. It will be the 25th meeting between Federer and Djokovic with the Swiss maestro holding a 14-10 advantage in career head-to-head matches. However, it is Djokovic who has won four of their five past encounters although Federer was the player who beat Djokovic on clay at the 2011 French Open semi-finals. The loss at Roland Garros stopped an astonishing 43-match win streak by Djokovic last year, a streak that set-up his ascent to the top ranking in July.
Federer is attempting to win a league-leading five tournament victories this year after hoisting the trophy in Rotterdam, Dubai, Indian Wells, and last week's Madrid clay event. Djokovic is still the number one player although he has defended only two of the titles he won from last year to date - those being the Australian Open and the Miami tournament. The Djokovic vs Federer semi will be the second men's semifinal at Court Centrale and it will start no earlier than 8pm local time on Saturday, May 18.
Prior to the Djokovic vs Federer match is the all-Spanish affair between Nadal and Ferrer. The no. 6-seed Ferrer downed Richard Gasquet, 7-6(4), 6-3 to advance to his third clay court semi-final in the last two months after reaching the same stage in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona. Nadal advanced to the last four by defeating last week's Madrid finalist, Tomas Berdych 6-4, 7-5. Nadal is hoping to win the title for the sixth time after he lost last year's final against Djokovic. He is chasing his third title this season, and third on clay as well after winning last month in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona.
In a recently published ATP article, the Big 3 of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have reached the semi-finals of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments together on 24 occasions, including three times this year and five times in 2011. On those occassions, eight were won by Djokovic, Nadal won seven including six on clay, and Federer won six. See Shark Bites Rome: Big Three In Final Four.
Rome's 2012 Internazionali BNL d'Italia Saturday, 19 May 2012 - Schedule:
CENTRALE Start 12:00 noon
 Na Li (CHN) vs  Serena Williams (USA) WTA
Not Before 1:30 PM
 Angelique Kerber (GER) vs  Maria Sharapova (RUS) WTA
Not Before 4:00 PM
 David Ferrer (ESP) vs  Rafael Nadal (ESP) ATP
Not Before 8:00 PM
 Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs  Roger Federer (SUI) ATP
Watch the exciting men's semifinal live tennis online at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Roma, Foro Italico featuring Djokovic vs Federer and Nadal vs Ferrer.