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. In the final game, Thiem smashed his racket into a mangled wreck and handed it to a befuddled fan in the front row. "And that's what I did today", Nadal said. Should both players win two more matches, it will set up a last-four clash between rivals more accustomed to meeting in the Italian Open final. 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. Fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro emerged a 7-5, 6-3 victor over Barcelona runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas and Miami Open champion John Isner was edged 7-6 (5), 6-7 (2), 6-7 (5) by Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
"But I think in Rome it's a little bit different".
"I beat a top clay-courter", Fognini added.
Thiem was already looking ahead to the French Open, which starts on May 27.
Halep eased past Japan's Naomi Osaka 6-1, 6-0, as Wozniacki beat Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck 6-1, 6-4. The victory not only allowed Halep to exact revenge on Osaka following their one-sided clash at Indian Wells, but ensured the Romanian retains her top ranking.More news: Russian company charged in Mueller probe seeks grand jury materials
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"It was very important I went in with a positive attitude, with an attitude to win".
"She knew it and we were having a lot of backhand rallies, other than that I couldn't say what happened."I feel like I've played her the most of any player, this was the third time this year".
Djokovic, meanwhile, has now secured convincing back-to-back wins in Rome as the Serbian continues to feel his way back after the elbow injury that kept him sidelined for half of last season and prolonged spells this year.
Maria Sakkari of Greece rallied past sixth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 3-6, 6-3, 7-5. The chair umpire acknowledged that she "lost" the ball mark and therefore said the point should be awarded to Sakkari. He broke in the 11th game and later served out the set.
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.