Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Sports | By Jonathan Ford

ATP Rome - Thursday Schedule: Nadal, Djokovic to play on Central Court

ATP Rome - Thursday Schedule: Nadal, Djokovic to play on Central Court

Sixth seed Thiem - who inflicted the first clay-court defeat in nearly a year on Rafael Nadal last week in Madrid - smashed his racket in fury on his way to losing to Italy's Fabio Fognini 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 in just over two hours.

"It was very important I went in with a positive attitude, with an attitude to win".

Nadal later eased through 6-1, 6-0 against Bosnian Damir Dzumhur as he targets an eighth Rome title and first since 2013.

France's Caroline Garcia, a semi-finalist in Madrid last week, also eased into the third round past Hungary's Timea Babos 6-3, 6-4.Garcia, the seventh seed, went through with a break in both sets in 1hr 30min and she will next play either American Sloane Stephens or Kaia Kanepi of Estonia.In the men's event, USA 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).

When Thiem netted a service return two points later to end it, the White Stripes' Seven Nation Army was blasted over the stadium sound system and the crowd began singing along in an atmosphere that more closely resembled a soccer game than a tennis match. "That was the way that I wanted to play".

However, before they can look ahead to a blockbuster encounter, Nadal will first have to get past Dutchman Robin Haase/Canadian Denis Shapovalov, while Djokovic next faces Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who defeated American John Isner yesterday.

"I don't know how many mistakes I made, but not many".

Also on the red clay, Kei Nishikori rallied to beat third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-4.

Defending champion Alexander Zverev stayed focused on his way to a 7-5 6-2 win over Italian wildcard Matteo Berrettini.

But he will not be able to take revenge on sixth seed Thiem who lost his second round match 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 to Italian Fabio Fognini.

Nishikori dropped the first set but mounted an impressive comeback to secure a hard-fought 6-7, (4-7), 7-5, 6-4 victory.

The 21-year-old from Hamburg next meets Britain's Kyle Edmund, who beat Djokovic in the Madrid second round, and got past Lucas Pouille 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) in Rome on Wednesday.

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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.

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