ROME: Austria’s Dominic Thiem sent Rafael Nadal crashing out of the Rome Masters on Friday with a 6-4, 6-3 quarter-final victory, ending the Spaniard’s 17-match winning run.
Nadal, a former seven-time champion in the Italian capital, had dominated Thiem to win the Madrid Masters final last week.
But the 30-year-old, seeded fourth in Rome and building up for an assault on a 10th French Open title, was outplayed throughout a thrilling encounter on centre court.
Nadal said he intends to have a free weekend before ramping up his preparations for Roland Garros from Monday.
“Tomorrow I’ll be in Mallorca fishing or playing golf, or another thing. I’m going to rest a little bit, I think I deserve it,” said Nadal. “Then from Monday and Tuesday I will start to prepare for Roland Garros. It’s an important event for me. If you do things well, you have more chances in Roland Garros. I hope to play my best tennis in Roland Garros.”
Nadal, given a first round bye, played only three games of his second round match with Nicolas Almagro before his unseeded compatriot retired injured on Wednesday.
Thiem, who has a 17-3 record on clay this year, will now look to reach his fourth final of 2017.
However, he is 0-4 in career meetings with Djokovic and 0-2 against del Potro.
“It’s a very tough situation in tennis. I mean, you have a big win, and the next day there is Djokovic or Del Potro waiting,” said Thiem after his second victory in six meetings against Nadal, adding to his 2016 Argentina Open semi-final win. “It remains very, very difficult. But they are both unbelievable, big players.”
German 20-year-old Alexander Zverev reached his first Masters semi-final with a 7-6 (7/4), 6-1 victory over Canadian fifth seed Milos Raonic.
“It’s another stepping stone in my career,” said Zverev.