ATP Rome: Dominic Thiem ends Rafael Nadal’s unbeaten run on clay as Djokovic and del Potro are forced to come back Saturday

Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro will have to resume their quarterfinal match at the Rome Masters on Saturday after play was interrupted due to heavy rain and lightning, with the world number two leading 6-1, 1-2.

Earlier in the day Dominic Thiem stunned the Rome crowd as he inflicted the perfect revenge on Rafael Nadal, defeating the seven-time former champion in straight sets 6-4, 6-3.

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Just five days on from contesting the Madrid Open final, where Nadal won 7-6(8), 6-4, Thiem looked determined to reverse his fortunes against the 14-time Grand Slam champion from the outset, frequently forcing him beyond the baseline.

The Austrian quickly raced into a 5-1 lead, catching his opponent off guard on Court Centrale. Nadal pulled one of the breaks back to test Thiem’s nerve, but the 23-year-old held on to take the opening set 6-4.

Nadal’s attempts to produced a second set fight back were thwarted as the Austrian continued to play solidly on serve. Thiem threatened to make the perfect start as he moved to a 15-30 advantage in the Spaniard’s opening service game, but the former champion made sure he held to move in front.

The eighth seed was not to be denied a break of serve in the seventh game, making the breakthrough at a crucial time to move 4-3 in front. The Austrian then held to leave his opponent serving to stay in the tournament, and it was a task which Nadal could not come through as his 17-match unbeaten streak this season on clay came to an end.

In the final quarterfinal of the day under the lights it was del Potro who got off to the perfect start in the match by securing an immediate break of serve, but the second seed quickly broke back to get his quarterfinal match back on track.

Djokovic was able to kick on from there, moving up a break after an untimely double fault from the Argentine and the Serb swiftly moved 5-1 in front, dominating the early exchanges, testing his opponent’s movement on the service, a test which he failed to have the answers to in the first set.

When serving for the set del Potro hung tough and tried to keep himself involved as he brought up two break points to pull a game back. The Serb saved the first with a short, angled forehand winner and then saved the second with another strong forehand which the Argentine could not return. Djokovic only needed the one chance to wrap up the opening set, ripping a backhand cross court winner to take it 6-1 after 44 minutes.

As the rain started to pour in the Italian capital, both players held their opening service games to love to begin the second set and del Potro held once again to move 2-1 in front before the pair were forced off court as rain and lightning swirled around the complex.

That proved to be the final action of the night as play was called off due to heavy rain, the players will return to the court to finish the quarterfinal not before 1:30pm local time on Saturday.


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