Nadal stunned in Rome before French Open title defence

ROME (AFP) – Rafael Nadal warned he knew how to fix his errors before his French Open title defence after crashing in the quarter-finals of the Rome Masters on Saturday night, the final warm-up before Roland Garros.

The nine-time Rome winner slumped 6-2, 7-5 on a humid night in the Italian capital to Argentine Diego Schwartzman, a player the second seed had beaten in all nine of their previous clashes.

It was Nadal’s last chance to tune-up before his bid for a 13th French Open, and record-equalling 20th Grand Slam to match Roger Federer in just over a week.

“It’s a completely special and unpredictable year,” said the 34-year-old. “I’ll probably go back home and then let’s see what’s going on. I did my job here.

“I fought until the end. But losing that many serves, you can’t expect to win a match. Something that I have to fix. I know how to do it.

Rafael Nadal plays a backhand to Diego Schwartzman during their quarter-final match of the men’s Italian Open. PHOTOS: AFP
Diego Schwartzman celebrates after defeating Rafael Nadal

“I’m going to keep working and keep practising with the right attitude and try to give me a chance to be ready.

“I did a couple of things well and other things bad. And that’s it. At least I played three matches.”

The two-time defending champion was making his comeback after a long coronavirus-enforced break having skipped the US Open.

Nadal beat fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, a US Open semi-finalist, 6-1, 6-1 in his first match this week followed by Serb Dusan Lajovic 6-1, 6-3.

But Schwartzman pulled out a stunning performance to leave Nadal with no answer.

“After such a long time without competing, I played good two matches, and now today I played a bad one against a good opponent,” said Nadal.

“It was not my night, at all,” he said.