Championship favourite Nadal out of Italian Open

Rafael Nadal

ROME—Rafael Nadal is out of the 2017 Internazionali BNL d’Italia after he was beaten in straight sets by Austria’s Dominic Thiem.

 The 30-year-old Spaniard is a seven time winner of the event and was previously unbeaten on clay this year. Nadal has looked unstoppable on his favourite surface, claiming trophies in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and most recently in Madrid, where he beat Thiem in the final.

 However, the Austrian had his revenge Friday as he overcame Nadal 6-4, 6-3, to book his place in the semi-finals.

 Thiem raced to a 5-1 lead in the first set, dominating the opening exchanges by hitting to both corners, which left Nadal contained behind the baseline, unable to impose his game upon the hard-hitting Austrian.

 Nadal fought back by breaking Thiem’s serve, but it was too little too late as the Austrian held on to win the opener 6-4. Thiem took this momentum into the second set and when Nadal crucially failed to hold serve at 3-4, the door was open for the youngster to put an end to the contest.

 The Italian crowd rose to their feet to congratulate the Austrian’s sterling performance, who will be hard to beat on a surface he feels very at home on.

 A disappointed Nadal praised his opponent saying, “He was very aggressive, very strong. He played very well, didn’t miss much and was able to push me back.”

 Thiem will face either Novak Djokovic or Juan Martin Del Potro in the next round, as their game was suspended due to rains that plagued Friday’s play.  The Serbian, who was a finalist last year, leads 6-1, 1-2 as the game resumes Saturday afternoon.

 The other semi-finalists are German Alexander Zverev and American John Isner, after they overcame Milos Raonic and Marin Cilic respectively.