Nine-time Italian Open champion Rafael Nadal was beaten by Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals of the event in Rome, 6-2, 7-5. Nadal struggled with his serve and failed to win the event which was meant to be a warm-up to his bid for a 13th French Open title.

Schwartzman broke Nadal's serve five times in one of the best performances of his career. He will be facing Denis Shapovalov in the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic dropped a set on his way to the other semi-final in what should have been an easy victory against 97th ranked Dominik Koepfer. The Serb advanced against the German in three sets, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

After being disqualified from the US Open due to a temporary lapse in judgement, Djokovic let his temper get the best of him in Rome once again. He smashed his racquet after being broken and admitted that he has a long way to go before he can fully control his emotions on the court.

According to the BBC, he said, "It's not the first nor the last racquet I'll break in my career. That's how I guess I release sometimes my anger. I am working on my mental and emotional health as much as I'm working on my physical health."

It may be remembered that Djokovic lost his chance to get closer to Nadal and Roger Federer's Grand Slam records (19 and 20 titles respectively), after he defaulted out of the recently concluded US Open. He swung a ball into the back wall out of frustration and accidentally hit a line judge in the throat.

With Nadal not showing his best form, Djokovic has another opportunity to win his 18th Grand Slam title at the upcoming French Open.

In the women's semi-finals, Simona Halep will be facing Garbine Muguruza while Marketa Vondrousova is awaiting the winner between Karolina Pliskova and Elise Mertens.

The French Open is set to being on September 27 in its usual venue at Roland Garros.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal fell to his first defeat in 10 matches to Diego Schwartzman POOL / Clive Brunskill