ROME — Novak Djokovic can’t seem to find any consistency on clay courts. And with the French Open less than 10 days away, he will enter Roland Garros on the back of two early defeats.
The top-ranked Serb wasted a chance to serve out the match and was beaten 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 by sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych in the Italian Open quarterfinals Friday.
In the semifinals, Berdych will face six-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal, who defeated fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. While he struggled at times, Nadal appeared sharper than in his three-set win over Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis a day earlier.
In the other half of the draw, Roger Federer overcame an early break in the second set to edge rising Polish player Jerzy Janowicz 6-4, 7-6 (2) in a night match at the Foro Italico.
Federer will play Benoit Paire, the 36th-ranked Frenchman who routed Marcel Granollers of Spain 6-1, 6-0 to reach his first Masters series semifinal.
In the women’s tournament, top-ranked Serena Williams rolled past Spanish opponent Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-0 to extend her winning run to a career-best 22 matches. Williams will face Romanian qualifier Simona Halep, who rallied past two-time Rome champion Jelena Jankovic 4-6, 6-0, 7-5.
Meanwhile, two-time defending champion Maria Sharapova withdrew before her quarterfinal against seventh-seeded Sara Errani due to illness. Errani, the first Italian semifinalist in this tournament since Raffaella Reggi won the 1985 event in Taranto, will face third-seeded Victoria Azarenka, who held off ninth-seeded Sam Stosur 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.
It’s the second consecutive week that Djokovic has struggled, having also lost to Grigor Dimitrov in the second round of the Madrid Open after being bothered by a right ankle injury.
Djokovic said he had been playing pain free this week.
Still, he will need to get his game in shape in a hurry with the French Open.
“I know I can play well on clay, and so I shouldn’t allow myself to have these drops, and let’s hope it won’t happen for Roland Garros,” Djokovic said about the French Open.