Rome: The semi-final line-up at the Italia Masters in Rome resembles a Davis Cup tie after Spanish and Argentine players claimed all four berths on Friday. With Spain's Albert Costa and Carlos Moya and Argentina's David Nalbandian and Mariano Zabaleta all enjoying straight-set victories, the results merely underlined the current dominance of those two nations on Europe's slow clay courts. Moya qualifies Moya was on court twice, winning his delayed third round match against qualifier Ivo Karlovic and then returned to dispatch Romania's Andrei Pavel 6-1 6-2 in just 48 minutes. Rain on Thursday at the Foro Italico meant the third round of the Italia Masters was completed on Friday. Sixth seed Carlos Moya was looking to book his place in the last eight against qualifier Ivo Karlovic. Moya's consistency eventually broke down the six feet 10 inch (2.08 metres) Karlovic's powerful serve and volley game and the Spaniard broke the Croatian to win the match 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 with a running forehand passing shot. Moya was scheduled to face Andrei Pavel later on Friday after the Romanian recorded a 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5) win against Spain's David Sanchez. Costa in the semis The first quarter-final of the day featured the 2002 French Open winner Albert Costa against the Czech Republic's Jiri Novak. Costa, who knocked out world number one Roger Federer in the second round, won the opening set 6-4 after Novak netted a forehand on set point. The Spaniard proved too consistent for Novak in the second set and Costa reached the last four in Rome for the third time in his career with a 6-4 6-2 victory. Zabaleta to meet Moya In the third quarterfinal of the day, unseeded Mariano Zabaleta took on the eighth seed from Chile, Nicolas Massu. The Argentine ran away with the first set for the loss of only one game. The second set was a closer contest, but Zabaleta held his nerve to serve out for a 6-1, 7-5 victory and qualified for a semi-final clash against sixth seed Moya. Nalbandian books a berth Argentine fifth seed David Nalbandian, the highest seed left at the Rome Masters, beat Vincent Spadea 6-4 6-3 here today to set up a semi-final clash against Albert Costa. Nalbandian, a quarter-finalist at the Australian Open, took the first set but then found himself 3-0 down and with three break points against him in the second as the 29-year-old American hit back. Spadea's recovery triggered a positive response from Nalbandian and the 2002 Wimbledon runner-up won the next six games in a row to close out his quarterfinal in style. Nalbandian, seven years younger than Spadea, said saving those points to hold his serve for 3-1 rather than go 4-0 down was the turning point of the match. "It was going to be very difficult if he broke me again, but I then served well and managed to pull it back," he said. (AP).
Topics : Tennis