Nadal Rolls Into Semis; Djokovic Ousted From Italian Open
Aiming for his fifth title at the Foro Italico in five years, Nadal had trouble finding his range off Wawrinka's powerful serve but managed to break the 26th-ranked Swiss player to close out the first set, then cruised from there.
Wawrinka, the 2008 runner-up, dropped only two points in his first four service games.
Nadal improved his record on clay this season to 8-0, having won the Monte Carlo Masters two weeks ago.
The Rome Masters is an important warmup for the French Open, which starts May 23.
Nadal's semifinal opponent will be either Ernests Gulbis or Feliciano Lopez, who were playing the night match.
Earlier, Fernando Verdasco extended his impressive form on clay with a grueling 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-4 win over Novak Djokovic.
Verdasco has reached the final of his last two events -- losing to Nadal in Monte Carlo and winning last week's Barcelona Open. In the semifinals, Verdasco will face David Ferrer, who cruised past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-1.
Roger Federer and Swiss Davis Cup teammate Yves Allegro were eliminated from the doubles tournament by American pair John Isner and Sam Querrey 6-4, 6-4.
Federer lost his opener in singles to Gulbis on Tuesday.
Between Verdasco and Djokovic the first set alone lasted nearly 1 1/2 hours and the sixth-seeded Verdasco closed out the match with an ace down the middle after 3 hours, 18 minutes of long baseline rallies under a glaring sun.
"When you face someone who always makes you play one more shot on every point it's not easy to play a quick match," Djokovic said. "So I knew it was going to be a long match today.
"The match could have gone either way. It was decided by one or two points."
Verdasco also beat Djokovic in the Monte Carlo semifinals, although with a relatively straightforward 6-2, 6-2 score.
The turning point this time didn't come until Verdasco won a marathon game on his sixth break point to take a 2-1 lead in the third set, running down a drop shot from Djokovic and forcing the exhausted Serb to hit into the net.
Djokovic committed 46 unforced errors to Verdasco's 40.
"My backhand wasn't at the level I wanted it to be at today, and I struggled a little with my serve, but I'm happy more or less with the way I played," Djokovic said. "If there was one different thing I could've done I would have liked to play better on the important points."
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