Fabio Fognini knocks out Dominic Thiem while Rafael Nadal cruises through in Rome
Novak Djokovic wins comfortably but faces a big ranking drop if he does not come close to matching last year's result where he reached the final
By Raz Mirza at Foro Italico in Rome
Last Updated: 16/05/18 9:52pm
Italy's Fabio Fognini produced a majestic performance in front of his home fans to knock out Dominic Thiem, while Rafael Nadal routed Damir Dzumhur in Rome.
Fognini got the Foro Italico crowd fired up with an inspired 6-4 1-6 6-3 win over last week's Madrid finalist, Thiem.
Sixth-seed Thiem - who inflicted the first clay-court defeat in almost a year on Nadal last week in the Spanish capital - took out his frustration on his racket as Fognini sealed his first win in three meetings with the Austrian.
The 30-year-old next plays Germany's Peter Gojowczyk before a possible quarter-final showdown with top-seed Nadal.
I think I deserved it at the end. I ruined a few flowers but I think the federation can afford to buy some new ones.
"We're finally connecting and I think that's the most beautiful thing," Fognini said of the crowd, which whistled him off the court following an erratic performance a few years ago. "They finally understand me.
"I beat a top clay-courter," Fognini added. "I think I deserved it at the end. I ruined a few flowers but I think the federation can afford to buy some new ones."
Thiem said: "It was an intense fight. He was pumped today and playing at home and coming off a good win over (Gael) Monfils. If you compare it to Madrid there were a lot of close matches I could have lost there too. I did have chances."
Nadal, a seven-time Rome champion, romped to victory over 31st-ranked Dzumhur 6-1 6-0.
The 31-year-old, who claimed the 11th titles of his career at both Monte-Carlo and Barcelona, took the first set in 34 minutes coasting to victory in just one hour.
The 16-time Grand Slam winner next takes on either Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov or Robin Haase.
Also on the red clay of the Foro Italico, Novak Djokovic looked untroubled as he defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4 6-2 to reach the third round, while Kei Nishikori, who continues to work his way back up the rankings after wrist problems, defeat third seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-4.
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).
The Masters 1000 Series continues with our coverage of the ATP Italian Open on Sky Sports Arena from 11am on Thursday.
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