Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Sports | By Brooke Harris

Nadal back to dominant best as Dimitrov, Thiem fall in Rome

Nadal back to dominant best as Dimitrov, Thiem fall in Rome

Osaka, 20, failed to convert any of her six break point opportunities, hitting 29 unforced errors to Halep's 14.

Nadal, the world No 2 and seven-time champion in Rome, was in devastating form in the Italian capital, brushing aside Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina 6-1, 6-0 in just over an hour.

"It was important, after a loss in Madrid, to come back strong", the 31-year-old, who received a bye in the opening round, said.

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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). "He was pumped today and playing at home and coming off a good win over (Gael) Monfils", said Thiem.

Novak Djokovic, a four-time victor in Rome, powered into the third round with a convincing 6-4 6-2 win over Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Also on the red clay of the Foro Italico, Kei Nishikori rallied to beat third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-4, and Juan Martin del Potro eliminated Greek qualifier Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 6-3.

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Halep needs to reach at least the quarterfinals or risk losing the top spot to Caroline Wozniacki. In the men's event, U.S. eighth seed John Isner fell following a three set battle which included three tiebreaks against Spain's Albert Ramos 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/5).

World number one Rafael Nadal will continue his quest for sixth Madrid Open title when he squares off with Argentinean tennis star Diego Schwartzman in the last-16 clash of the men's singles event here on Thursday.

"I just really wanted to win this match against a really classy player", said the five-time Grand Slam champion. The Romanian will next play 13th-seeded American Madison Keys, who battled past Croatian Donna Vekic 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/0) for a place in the quarter-finals.

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Maria Sharapova saved two break points in the third set to get past Dominika Cibulkova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Venus Williams, who won the Rome title back in 1999 and is bidding for her 50th career title this week, got her first win on clay this season. Nishikori, now ranked No 24 as he continues his return from injury, was down breaks in both the second and third sets before fighting back to claim a hard-fought victory.

Former world number one Karolina Pliskova took centre stage for smashing the umpire's chair with her racket instead of shaking hands after losing to Greece's Maria Sakkari after an incorrect line call.

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