Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Nadal survives scare at Rome Masters

updated 5:12 PM EDT, Thu May 16, 2013
Rafael Nadal will play fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the quarterfinals of the Rome Masters.
Rafael Nadal will play fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the quarterfinals of the Rome Masters.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rafael Nadal overcomes scare to reach quarterfinals of Rome Masters
  • World No.1 Novak Djokovic to face Tomas Berdych in last eight
  • Serena Williams crushes Dominika Cibulkova 6-0 6-1 to make semifinal stage
  • Former French Open winner Li Na shocked by Jelena Jankovic

(CNN) -- Rafael Nadal is the undisputed "King of Clay" but the Spaniard only just managed to cling onto his crown at the Rome Masters.

The defending champion was blown away 6-1 in the opening set of his third round match by Latvia's Ernests Gulbis as the prospect of a shock defeat began to surface.

But the seven-time French Open winner hit back to take the next two sets 7-5 6-4 and set up a last eight contest with fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.

Nadal, who is aiming for a seventh title in Rome, has been in impressive form since returning from a seven-month absence with a knee injury.

The World No.5, who won his 23rd Masters tournament in Madrid last week, has triumphed in five of his seven finals since working himself back to fitness.

Beating the 'French Open curse'
Nadal challenger makes a splash
The first diva of women's tennis

"On Friday, I have a chance against against a very difficult player," Nadal told a press conference ahead of his clash with Ferrer.

"I survived a tough match today. Now I have another chance to try and go further.

"Being in the quarterfinals is fantastic. I'm more than pleased with what I've done since I returned (from his seven months off with knee problems)."

Ferrer will be fresh and raring to go after his opponent, Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber, withdrew after suffering with vertigo.

Read: Injured Murray to miss French Open?

Meanwhile, top seed and World No.1 Novak Djokovic eased to a 6-1 6-4 win over Alexandr Dolgopolov.

The Serb star, who had been suffering with an ankle injury before winning in Monte Carlo last month, showed no signs of discomfort as he prevailed in just an hour.

Roger Federer also cruised into the quarterfinals following a 6-1 6-2 victory over Frenchman Gilles Simon.

Federer, seeded second, will take on Poland's Jerzy Janowicz for a place in the last four.

Read: Serena ready for 'ultimate challenge'

French Open champs on the future
Sharapova prepares for Roland Garros
On the court with 'Baby Federer'

In the women's section, Serena Williams thrashed Slovakia's 14th seed Dominika Cibulkova 6-0 6-1 to make it 21 consecutive victories.

The World No.1 will face Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro in the semifinal, but says she is taking nothing for granted after her shock defeat in the opening round at Roland Garros last year.

"Nothing is ever perfect -- I learned that last year when I felt perfect," she told a press conference. "I am still in the danger zone."

"I can't remember the other winning streaks, but I hope I can get to 22 and the rest of the matches that I have here.

"Plus seven, and Wimbledon too, so it would be dangerous to lose now."

Read: Djokovic eases ankle fears

Fifth seed Li Na, who won at Roland Garros in 2011, suffered a shock defeat against Jelena Jankovic.

Li was beaten 7-6 7-5 and was unhappy with her performance.

"I felt like I wasn't playing so badly today, it was just a really long, tough match between me and JJ," Li told reporters.

"I was trying a lot of things out there on the court today. Sometimes it was working, sometimes it didn't."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:52 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
As a player he was as fiery as his hair -- and as Novak Djokovic's coach, Boris Becker says he has to battle to keep his emotions in check.
updated 7:02 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Tennis great Boris Becker says he was stunned by the level of criticism he received after being appointed as Novak Djokovic's coach.
updated 7:01 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
"I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
When Agnieszka Radwanska refused to look her opponent in the eye after losing at Wimbledon, it raised more than eyebrows.
updated 9:14 PM EDT, Sun June 22, 2014
It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
Rafael Nadal is still the "King of Clay" -- but his crown has slipped a bit, says CNN's Will Edmonds.
updated 3:46 AM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
He's regularly voted France's favorite famous person, but many of the nation's youth have "no idea" about his glorious sporting past
updated 7:59 PM EDT, Mon May 5, 2014
British tennis player Elena Baltacha won 11 ITF Pro Circuit titles during her 16-year playing career.
The Ukrainian-born, British tennis star loses fight against liver cancer, just a few weeks after revealing that she was battling the disease.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Tue April 29, 2014
Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.
updated 8:38 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Suisse's Belinda Bencic returns the ball to France's Alize Cornet during the second match of the Fed Cup first round tennis tie France vs Switzerland on February 8, 2014 at the Pierre de Coubertin stadium in Paris. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
It's no easy matter becoming a world class tennis player. It's even harder when everyone (really -- everyone) is calling you the "new Martina Hingis."
updated 10:20 AM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
At the 2009 Australian Open, French men's tennis was the talk of the town.
updated 2:00 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - APRIL 14: Rafael Nadal of Spain sails a boat during day two of the ATP Monte Carlo Rolex Masters Tennis at Monte-Carlo Sporting Club on April 14, 2014 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal may be most at home on a clay tennis court, but he has always found comfort on the sea.
ADVERTISEMENT