>> Friday, May 18, 2012
It's now down to the final eight players at the 2012 Internazionali BNL d'Italia with six of the top eight seeds reaching the men's singles quarterfinals. A couple of blockbuster clashes is at hand featuring top 10 players. World no. 3. Rafael Nadal and world no. 7 Tomas Berdych is the first men's quarterfinal scheduled at the CENTRALE court at Foro Italico. This will be followed by the clash between world no. 1 Novak Djokovic and no. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Watch the Rome Masters 2012 live online here featuring Nadal vs Berdych and Djokovic vs Tsonga. The highlighted match in the evening will be between world no. 2 Roger Federer and the last Italian man standing in the draw, Andreas Seppi.
Tennis fans including this blogger have been hoping for another pre-French Open match-up between the two Rome tennis tournament champions of the past seven years. Nadal won in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010. Djokovic won in 2008 and 2011, including a straight set demolition over Nadal in last year's final. They are two wins away from another meeting in the final but first, they'll have to deal with tough challenges in their quarterfinal matches. It's possibly Nadal who has a more imposing challenger in world no. 7 Berdych. The Czech no. 1 player reached the finals of last week's Madrid tournament where Nadal was booted out before the quarterfinals by countryman Fernando Verdasco.
Incidentally, it was Berdych who disposed of Verdasco easily with a 6-1 6-2 victory in Madrid. Nadal acknowledged that Berdych's powerful game would serve him well in any surface including clay. Their head-to-head is heavily one-sided though with Nadal holding an 11-3 advantage, including wins in their last 10 matches since 2007. In their three previous matches on clay, Nadal had come out the victor, including straight set wins at a 2009 Davis Cup match and at the semifinals of the 2007 Monte-Carlo ATP Masters tournament. In tennis however, this trend may not mean anything. Note that Verdasco scored his first ever win over Nadal last week after 13 straight losses. And, Berdych certainly has momentum on his side after almost beating Federer in last Sunday's final.
Djokovic vs Tsonga is the other match-up between top 10 players as both advanced over Argentine opponents named Juan. Djokovic was definitely challenged in his 4-6 6-2 6-3 victory over no. 14-seed Juan Monaco while Tsonga had a surprisingly easy 6-4 6-1 win over no. 10-seed Juan Martin del Potro. Both players have never played each other on clay and Tsonga has a 5-4 career win-loss advantage over the defending champion. The winner will advance to a semi-final match against the winner of the Federer-Seppi match, which barring a major hiccup, should see the Swiss legend advance.
The last and probably least popular amongst the four quarterfinal matches will be the battle between no. 6-seed David Ferrer and no. 16-seed Richard Gasquet. This match is the only one scheduled outside CENTRALE court, it will be the first match in the SUPERTENNIS arena starting at 12 noon local time.
2012 Internazionali BNL d'Italia - Rome, Italy - Friday, 18 May 2012 Schedule
CENTRALE Start 12:00 noon
Flavia Pennetta (ITA) vs  Serena Williams (USA) WTA
Not Before 1:30 PM
 Tomas Berdych (CZE) vs  Rafael Nadal (ESP) ATP
Not Before 4:00 PM
 Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) ATP
Not Before 7:20 PM
 Angelique Kerber (GER) vs  Petra Kvitova (CZE) WTA
Not Before 9:00 PM
 Roger Federer (SUI) vs Andreas Seppi (ITA) ATP
SUPERTENNIS ARENA Start 12:00 noon
 David Ferrer (ESP) vs  Richard Gasquet (FRA) ATP
 Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) vs  Na Li (CHN) WTA
Not Before 3:00 PM
[WC] Venus Williams (USA) vs  Maria Sharapova (RUS) WTA
Watch the Rome Masters 2012 live online through TennisTv.com featuring Nadal vs Berdych and Djokovic vs Tsonga.