In Rome, a Semifinal Win for Rafael Nadal and a Big Step Forward for Novak Djokovic

“It’s a mental process, as well, to get back into that match play,” he said. “You need to play matches to get back that level of confidence that you need in order to compete with these kinds of guys who are the best players in the world, and to have a chance to compete for the biggest trophies.”

He added: “I’ve never faced this kind of situation before. So I thought that it’s not going to take me long to get back on the winning ways. But it actually happened the contrary, and I had to learn a lesson and accept the circumstances.”

Djokovic sounded a typically philosophical note to express that he felt he had turned a corner.

“In life, we people are very powerful, you know,” he said. “We can turn things around in one day, and I truly believe in that. I mean, I’ve experienced it myself many times throughout my life and my tennis career. So I believe that one match, one tournament, can turn things around one way or another. It just depends how you deal with it, how you process everything, how you accept it.”

Nadal, for his part, expressed total confidence in Djokovic’s resilience.

“Don’t have any doubt that if Novak wants to play, he will be back at his best,” Nadal said. “He is too good to not be there.”

On the women’s side, the defending champion, Elina Svitolina, reached the final for a second consecutive year with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Anett Kontaveit. Svitolina, who will face Simona Halep, a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 winner over Maria Sharapova, in the title match, said that she had grown into the confidence required of a defending champion.

“Last year, I was more gaining experience, gaining confidence,” Svitolina said. “This year, I tried to think that this is a part of my game, a part of me.”

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