Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Sport | By Cameron Gross

Fognini fires up Italian Open crowd with win over Thiem

Fognini fires up Italian Open crowd with win over Thiem

Rafael Nadal powered his way into the third round of the ATP Italian Open on Wednesday with a straight sets win over Bosnian Damir Dzumhur.

Former world number one Novak Djokovic - who has sunk to a ranking of 18th after six defeats in his 12 tour matches this year - eased past Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4 6-2.

The 31-year-old, whose 21-match unbeaten run on clay ended last week, had a first-round bye and will play Denis Shapovalov or Robin Haase next.

The Austrian was stunned at the Foro Italico by Fabio Fognini, losing 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 to the Italian.

In the most high-profile match on Day 4, Japan's Kei Nishikori battled past world No 4 Grigor Dimitrov 6-7, 7-5, 6-4.

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

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And Nadal was impressed with how well he played. "I did have chances", said Thiem.

"If you compare it to Madrid there were a lot of close matches I could have lost there too".

World No 5 Karolina Pliskova was eliminated by Maria Sakkari in controversial circumstances, prompting the Czech to react by smashing her racket against the umpire's chair at the end of the match.

Pliskova, the sixth seed, argued lengthily after an overhead shot was incorrectly ruled out and both the line judge and the umpire said they could not find the mark. She could not hide her fury as she went on to lose the match 3-6, 6-3, 7-5. And that's what I did today. "That was the way that I want to play".

"I don't know how many mistakes I made, but not many". The victory not only allowed Halep to exact revenge on Osaka following their one-sided clash at Indian Wells, but ensured the Romanian retains her top ranking.

Fognini's victory was far less straightforward, but the 30-year-old eventually prevailed 6-4 1-6 6-3 against last year's semi-finalist.

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