Ruthless Nadal advances, Thiem stung by Fognini

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

World number two Rafael Nadal reached the quarter-finals of the Italian Open following a routine win on Thursday.

"It was a positive match, of course", said Nadal, who is chasing an eighth title at Rome.

"I played very well today", said Thiem.

"It's true that I had 15-40 and a couple of break points in the first game, 15-40 and a couple of break points in the second return game and I didn't make them".

"[Fognini] a great player", Nadal added.

"We're finally connecting and I think that's the most attractive thing", Fognini said of the crowd, which whistled him off the court following an erratic performance a few years ago. One break in the first set gave the Italian veteran the set. "I've historically always played well in Rome, and I feel like each match is getting better".

Rounding out the day's action, 10th-seeded Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta bested American Steve Johnson 6-4, 2-6, 6-4; Frenchman Benoit Paire upset 14th-seeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 and Great Britain's Kyle Edmund defeated 16th-seeded Frenchman Lucas Pouille 6-2, 7-6 (3). The Madrid loss was clearly an aberration and Rafa is definitely looking determined to head to Paris with an eighth title on claycourts of Rome.

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Number one seed Simona Halep of Romania made it through to the quarter-finals before a ball was struck as her opponent, Madison Keys of the USA, had to retire hurt before she took to the court.

Goffin got through when Juan Martin del Potro had to retire at 6-2, 4-5 with a left leg injury he sought treatment for earlier in the match.

Halep needed to reach the quarterfinals and progress further than No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki to hold onto the top spot, and she accomplished the first task.

At 2:30 PM, Maria Sharapova, who guaranteed a spot as seed at the Roland Garros through the win over Daria Gavrilova, will face Jelena Ostapenko. Dimitrov has now lost four consecutive matches in Rome, dating back to his first-round win over Poland's Jerzy Janowicz in 2015.The Japanese star, a Rome semi-finalist in 2016 (l.to Djokovic) will meet Philipp Kohlschreiber for a place in the quarterfinals.

The victor will play Anett Kontaveit, who ousted 1999 champion Venus Williams 6-2, 7-6 (3).

The Romanian, a finalist in Rome past year, is on her way to holding on to top spot as she next plays France's Caroline Garcia who dumped out US Open champion Sloane Stephens 6-1, 7-6 (9/7).

Venus Williams crashed out in a third round defeat by Estonia's Anett Kontaveit, 6/2; 7/6 (3) at the on-going Rome Open Tennis Championship.

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