Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Sport | By Ellis Neal

Supreme Thiem tames seven-time Rome champion Nadal

Supreme Thiem tames seven-time Rome champion Nadal

Rafael Nadal's preparations for the French Open continued apace as he swept past 13th-seeded Jack Sock 6-3, 6-4 Thursday to ease into the Italian Open quarterfinals and extend his winning streak to 17 matches.

The Austrian was beaten by Nadal in his maiden ATP Masters 1000 final at the Madrid Open, having already been defeated by the same opponent at the same stage of the Barcelona Open.

But the 30-year-old, seeded fourth in Rome and building up for an assault on a 10th French Open title, was outplayed throughout a thrilling encounter on centre court.

In the final quarter-final of the day unseeded Argentinian Juan del Potro, who beat Britain's Kyle Edmund in the second round, faces former four-time champion and second seed Novak Djokovic.

And it paid dividends during the opening stages of the first set, with Thiem securing a double break within just 23 minutes to open up a 4-1 lead.

Thiem nearly allowed Nadal back into the match but managed to cancel out three break points to go into a 5-3 lead and he broke again to take the match when Nadal sent a forehand long.

But when he stepped up to serve at 3-3, Nadal suffered a decisive loss, one exchange leaving the crowd on their feet as Thiem raced behind the baseline and rifled a cross-court backhand past his rival.

Home favorite Fabio Fognini, who saw off top-seeded Andy Murray on Tuesday, lost 6-3, 6-3 to Alexander Zverev, who will play fifth-seeded Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals after the Canadian beat Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-2.

There's a new rivalry in town: Rafael Nadal v Dominic Thiem.

Croatia's Marin Cilic returns the ball to John Isner of the United States during their match at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Friday, May 19, 2017.

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