Federer, Osaka pull out injured, Nishikori exits Italian Open

ROME (Agencies): Roger Federer and Naomi Osaka both pulled out of the Italian Open on Friday before their quarter-final matches due to injuries just a week before the start of the French Open.

The 37-year-old Federer — returning to clay after a two-year absence — retired with a right leg injury before he was due to play Greek eighth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. “I am not 100 percent physically and after consultation with my team, it was determined that I not play,” said Federer.

Tsitsipas, a runner-up in last week’s Madrid Open, will now play either defending champion Rafael Nadal or Fernando Verdasco for a place in the final. Osaka — winner of the last two Grand Slams in the US Open and the Australian Open — had earlier said she could not compete because of a problem with her hand. “I woke up this morning and I couldn’t really move my thumb,” the 21-year-old told a press conference. “I can’t move my hand. I can’t move my thumb and I’m not sure I can play my match.

“I tried to practice and grip my racket and I just felt this pain every time I tried to move my hand in different directions.” The Japanese star was due to meet Madrid Open champion and sixth seed Kiki Bertens for a place in the final four in Rome.

Bertens goes through to meet either Britain’s Johanna Konta or Czech Marketa Vondrousova. “I haven’t seen the doctor the yet. I’ve seen the physio,” she said. Osaka said she could stay in Rome before going on to the French Open, but did not rule out competing in Roland Garros.

“I’m going to stay here for one more day and see how it is,” she said. “I haven’t really talked to everyone so don’t really know the plan is yet. I’ve never had this problem before, it’s brand new.” “I’m going to take it like how I went to Australia,” added Osaka, who had also retired with a leg injury against Bertens in the WTA finals last October before going on to win the Australian Open. “Grand Slams to me are like a playground, I have a lot of fun there.”

– Top ranking at Roland Garros –

Osaka won twice on Thursday after the previous day’s play was rained off, retaining the world number one spot ahead of heading to Paris. Swiss 20-time Grand Slam winner Federer was playing in the Italian capital to prepare for his return to the French Open for the first time since 2015.

“I am disappointed that I will not be able to compete today,” said Federer, who reached the quarter-finals in Madrid. “Rome has always been one of my favourite cities to visit and I hope to be back next year.” Federer had been on court nearly four hours on Thursday, saving two match points to win through in three sets against Borna Coric after earlier easing to a straight sets win over Portgual’s Joao Sousa.

The former world number one had been a late addition to the Rome tournament as he sought clay court practice ahead of his bid to add to his lone French Open title in 2009. On court, Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman dispatched Japanese sixth seed Kei Nishikori to become the first player through to the semi-finals.

Schwartzman, 26, won 6-4, 6-2 in 87 minutes in the quarter-final for his first win against former US Open finalist Nishikori. The 24th-ranked one-time French Open quarter-finalist has not dropped a set so far on the red clay of the Foro Italico and next faces either world number one Novak Djokovic or compatriot Juan Martin del Potro for a place in the final.