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Ruthless Nadal advances, Thiem stung by Fognini

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Fabio Fognini

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 victor.

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.

"After a loss in Madrid, it's important to come back strong".

The 16-time Grand Slam victor next takes on either Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov or Robin Haase. "He was pumped today and playing at home and coming off a good win over (Gael) Monfils", said Thiem.

The 31-year-old, who claimed the 11th titles of his career at both Monte-Carlo and Barcelona, took the first set in 34 minutes coasting to victory in just one hour.

Djokovic, a four-time champion on the comeback trail three months after elbow surgery, eased past Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-2.

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Also on the red clay, Kei Nishikori rallied to beat third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-4. Djokovic, a four-time victor at Rome, had five aces in the match and will next face Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who rallied past eighth-seeded American John Isner 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5) in two hours, 53 minutes.

Halep needs to reach at least the quarterfinals or risk losing the top spot to Caroline Wozniacki. Due to that, the southpaw not only failed to defend his Madrid title but also had to relinquish the top ranking to his greatest nemesis, Roger Federer. "I did have chances", said Thiem. 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.

Get prep sports breaking news alerts from the Gwinnett Daily Post staff delivered to your email. Nadal, who recorded his 20th straight clay-court match win besides also improving his consecutive sets won on clay streak to 48, is bidding to snap John McEnroe's 49-set winning streak on the carpet in 1984.

But the 37-year-old had to save a match point before seeing off Russian Elena Vesnina 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 and will next face Anett Kontaveit. 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.

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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