Rome: Rafael Nadal’s winning streak ended at 17 matches as he lost in straight sets to Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open on Friday. The 6-4, 6-3 victory was a sort of revenge for Thiem, who was beaten by the Spaniard in the Madrid Open final last week. The 30-year-old Nadal, who was seeded fourth, had won consecutive clay-court tournaments in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid and was aiming for an eighth title at the Foro Italico as he prepares for the French Open in less than two weeks.
Thiem, the No.8 seed, will face four-time champion Novak Djokovic or Juan Martin del Potro in the semifinals. The 23-year-old Austrian dominated from the start, racing into a 5-1 lead. Nadal recovered and broke back to cut the gap to 5-4 but Thiem needed just one of his two set points when Nadal’s backhand down the line landed just wide. Thiem almost broke again early in the second set but Nadal managed to save two break points and go on to hold his serve.
However, Thiem took advantage on his opponent’s next service game, putting in several delightful returns which had the audience on their feet before closing the game with a crosscourt forehand. Thiem almost allowed Nadal back into the match but managed to cancel out three break points to go into a 5-3 lead and he broke again to take the match when Nadal sent a forehand long. Earlier, unseeded American John Isner battled into the semis with a 7-6 (7/3), 2-6, 7-6 (7/2) win over Croatian sixth seed Marin Cilic.
Isner, ranked 24th in the world, reached the last eight on Thursday when he upset world number three Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland 7-6 (7/1), 6-4. Second seed Novak Djokovic reached the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut. Djokovic will now face Juan Martin del Potro in the quarters after the unseeded Argentinian’s 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 win over Japanese seventh seed Kei Nishikori.
Halep in semis
In the women’s tournament, Romanian sixth seed Simona Halep surged into the semi-finals for the third time after a 6-2, 6-4 win over Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit on Friday. Halep, who reached the French Open final at Roland Garros in 2014, sets up a clash with Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens or Australian Daria Gavrilova. Venus Williams overcame determined Briton Johanna Konta to win their third-round clash 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 and takes on Spain’s Garbine Muguruza for a place in the semis. Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova, the seventh seed, suffered a 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 defeat to Australian qualifier Daria Gavrilova.
Rohan Bopanna and Pablo Cuevas came from behind to knock out seventh seeds Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez, sealing a quarterfinals berth. Bopanna and Cuevas rallied to beat the Spaniards 4-6 7-6 (7) 10-8 in a gruelling second round match that lasted one hour and 39 minutes.