Nadal eases past Shapovalov, Djokovic back challenging in Rome

Ruben Holloway
May 18, 2018

Novak Djokovic progressed with a 6-1 7-5 victory over Albert Ramos-Vinolas to face Japan's Kei Nishikori, who dismissed German Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-1 6-2.

The 24-year-old destroyed his racket in fury as he suffered his first defeat to Italian Fabio Fognini in three meetings, sinking 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 at the Foro Italico.

"It was a positive match, of course", said Nadal, who is chasing an eighth title at Rome. "So, I think it's a good thing that I played here".

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. "I ruined a few flowers but I think the federation can afford to buy some new ones".

"We're finally connecting and I think that's the most handsome thing", Fognini said of the crowd, which whistled him off the court following an erratic performance a few years ago. In a match that was preceded with great expectations for an upset, Rafael Nadal nevertheless advanced by dismissing fellow southpaw, Denis Shapovolov of Canada 6/4; 6/1.

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But the Austrian says he is optimistic about putting together a good run at Roland Garros, which starts on May 27, and where Thiem has reached the semi-finals in the past two years.

Goffin was one set up at the time.

Fourth seed Marin Cilic accounted for Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-3 6-4 while British No.1 Kyle Edmund was valiant in defeat to second seed Alexander Zverev, falling 7-5 7-6 (13-11). The Madrid loss was clearly an aberration and Rafa is definitely looking determined to head to Paris with an eighth title on claycourts of Rome.

Also, ninth-seeded David Goffin was leading 6-2, 4-5 when Juan Martin del Potro retired because of a groin injury; and 10th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta beat Aljaz Bedene 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-2.

Halep next plays U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens or seventh-seeded Caroline Garcia.

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In women's singles clash, American tennis star Venus Williams will also look to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament when she faces Estonian star Anett Kontaveit later today in their round-of-16.

Svitolina beat 14th-seeded Daria Kasatkina 0-6, 6-3, 6-2.

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

Dane Wozniacki was given a scare by Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova before closing out the match 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.

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