Rafa Nadal cruises into Italian Open third round, Dominic Thiem exits
Rafa Nadal got his claycourt season back on track with a 6-1 6-0 victory over Bosnian Damir Dzumhur to reach the third round of the Italian Open on Wednesday, while sixth-seed Dominic Thiem suffered an early exit.
Nadal, who lost his number world one ranking after his 14-match winning run on clay was snapped by Thiem in the Madrid Open quarter-finals last week, was back to his best as he wrapped up victory with a blistering forehand winner.
"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. "And that's what I did today.
Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates defeating Damir Dzumhur Bosnia during day four of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2018 tennis at Foro Italico on May 16, 2018 in Rome, Italy.Getty Images
"I went on court with the right intensity. I don't know how many mistakes I made, but not many. I also had control, more or less, of a high percentage of the points. That was the way that I want to play."
The Spaniard can reclaim the world number one ranking from Roger Federer if he wins a record-extending eighth title in Rome this week.
Thiem, who finished runner-up in Madrid on Sunday, struggled to find his rhythm in a 6-4 1-6 6-3 defeat by Fabio Fognini.
Fabio Fognini; Dominic ThiemGetty Images
World number 21 Fognini, backed by a partisan Italian crowd, frustrated Thiem with well-placed lobs and touch volleys and went on to record his first win over the Austrian in three meetings.
Novak Djokovic, a four-time winner in Rome, powered into the third round with a convincing 6-4 6-2 win over Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili.
The Serb will have opportunity to reach his first quarter-final of the season on Thursday, when he faces Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas.