Italy’s Fabio Fognini produced a majestic performance in front of his home fans to knock out Dominic Thiem, while Rafael Nadal routed Damir Dzumhur in Rome.
Fognini got the Foro Italico crowd fired up with an inspired 6-4 1-6 6-3 win over last week’s Madrid finalist, Thiem.
Sixth-seed Thiem – who inflicted the first clay-court defeat in almost a year on Nadal last week in the Spanish capital – took out his frustration on his racket as Fognini sealed his first win in three meetings with the Austrian.
The 30-year-old next plays Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk before a possible quarter-final showdown with top-seed Nadal.
“We’re finally connecting and I think that’s the most beautiful thing,” Fognini said of the crowd, which whistled him off the court following an erratic performance a few years ago. “They finally understand me.
“I beat a top clay-courter,” Fognini added. “I think I deserved it at the end. I ruined a few flowers but I think the federation can afford to buy some new ones.”
Fognini produced this outrageous reverse lob to leave Thiem stunned
Thiem said: “It was an intense fight. He was pumped today and playing at home and coming off a good win over (Gael) Monfils. If you compare it to Madrid there were a lot of close matches I could have lost there too. I did have chances.”
Thiem took his frustrations out on his racket during his defeat to Fognini
Nadal, a seven-time Rome champion, romped to victory over 31st-ranked Dzumhur 6-1 6-0.
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.
The 16-time Grand Slam winner next takes on either Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov or Robin Haase.
Also on the red clay of the Foro Italico, Albert Ramos-Vinolas rallied to beat eighth-seeded John Isner 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-5).
The Masters 1000 Series continues with our coverage of the ATP Italian Open on Sky Sports Arena from 11am on Thursday.
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May 17, 2018, 11:00am
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