Rafael Nadal avoids another Denis Shapovalov shock

Rafael Nadal avoids another Denis Shapovalov shock

The former world number one, whose 21-match unbeaten run on clay ended last week, had a first-round bye and will play Denis Shapovalov or Robin Haase next.

Nadal later eased through 6-1, 6-0 against Bosnian Damir Dzumhur as he targets an eighth Rome title and first since 2013.

The four-time Rome champion is making his way back this year after a six-month injury absence before the Australian Open, which was followed by elbow surgery.

While Fognini drop-kicked his racket onto the court after a miss early in the third set, it was Thiem who ultimately lost his cool. Djokovic, a four-time victor at Rome, had five aces in the match and will next face Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who rallied past eighth-seeded American John Isner 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5) in two hours, 53 minutes.

"After a loss in Madrid, it's important to come back strong". "I started with some mistakes on the return".

A break to love gave the 16-time major victor an early advantage in the second and he battled from 0-40 down in game five to add a second, a gap that proved insurmountable for an increasingly frustrated Shapovalov. I also had control, more or less, of a high percentage of the points.

Defending champion Alexander Zverev beat Italian wild-card entry Matteo Berrettini 7-5, 6-2.

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Nadal had a measure of revenge later that year in the Hamburg final, winning 7-5 7-5.

Rounding out the day's action, 10th-seeded Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta bested American Steve Johnson 6-4, 2-6, 6-4; Frenchman Benoit Paire upset 14th-seeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 and Great Britain's Kyle Edmund defeated 16th-seeded Frenchman Lucas Pouille 6-2, 7-6 (3).

Also on the red clay of the Foro Italico, Kei Nishikori rallied to beat third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-4, and Juan Martin del Potro eliminated Greek qualifier Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 6-3.

A year ago in Rome, Halep rolled her ankle in the final and lost a lead and the championship to Elina Svitolina.

Second round: Maria Sharapova bt Dominika Cibulkova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2; Venus Williams bt Elena Vesnina 6-2, 4-6, 7-5; Anett Kontaveit bt Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 7-5; Caroline Wozniacki bt Alison Van Uytvanck 6-1, 6-4; Daria Gavrilova bt Garbine Muguruza 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (6).

Kontaveit, 22, won through 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) against the 37-year-old American who was seeded eighth in a tournament she won almost two decades ago in 1999.

Wozniacki beat Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck 6-1, 6-4.

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