Fognini stuns Thiem in Italian Open

Nadal Djokovic power on as Thiem crashes out in Rome

Nadal will retake the World No 1 spot he lost to Roger Federer last week if he clinches the trophy.

Novak Djokovic eased past Nikoloz Basilashvili in straight sets to reach the round of 16 of the 2018 Italian Open on Wednesday.

Wozniacki eliminated Belgian qualifier Alison van Uytvanck 6-1, 6-4, and three-time Rome champion Maria Sharapova came back to beat Dominika Cibulkova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Fognini had his home-country crowd behind him, and when he went three set-points up against Thiem, it was clearly too much for the Austrian to take.

But in his Italian Open second round match today, the 31-year-old showed no nerves as he swept to a 5-0 lead in the first set.

Nadal was at his ruthless best against Damir Dzumhur, converting five of eight break points on the way to a dominant 6-1, 6-0 victory.

"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.

The Spaniard will face either Denis Shapovalov or Robin Haase in the third round on Thursday.

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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Also through to the third round on Wednesday was Japan's Kei Nishikori, who faced a tough challenge in Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov but fought back superbly to send the third seed packing.

Venus Williams, who won the Rome title back in 1999 and is bidding for her 50th career title this week, got her first win on clay this season.

"I beat a top clay-courter", Fognini added.

Albert Ramos-Vinolas rallied to beat eighth-seeded John Isner in three tie-breaks 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-5).

"We're finally connecting and I think that's the most attractive thing", Fognini said of the crowd, which whistled him off the court following an erratic performance a few years ago. She could not hide her fury as she went on to lose the match 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.

After the match, Pliskova didn't shake hands with the chair umpire and struck the chair several times with her racket.

Halep reached the final in Rome a year ago and needs to reach the quarter-finals this time to retain her world number one ranking.

Also, U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens held off a comeback from Estonian qualifier Kaia Kanepi in a 6-0, 5-7, 6-4 victory, and seventh-seeded Caroline Garcia defeated Timea Babos 6-3, 6-4. "I'm more relaxed than in Madrid", said 26-year-old Halep.

A clearly angry Pliskova then lost the following point and subsequently the game before her Greek opponent served out the match to take her place in the third round.

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