Nadal knocked out of Italian Open
Rafael Nadal has been knocked out of the Italian Open, beaten in the quarter-finals by Dominic Thiem in straight sets.
The Austrian won 6-4 6-3 and Nadal, so dominant on clay, sees his preparations for the French Open suffer a blow.
A beaten finalist at the Australian Open earlier this season, Nadal has been in excellent form so far on clay, his favourite surface.
He came into the match on the back of a 17-match winning run which brought him three successive titles; the Monte Carlo Masters, the Barcelona Open and the Madrid Open.
He had also beaten Thiem in those latter two tournaments but the Austrian, at 23, one of the rising stars of the men's game, dominated their latest clash, forcing Nadal onto the defensive and deservedly winning through.
He will play either Juan Martin del Potro or Novak Djokovic in the semi-final.
The big serving American John Isner is through to face Alexander Zverev in the other semi.
Isner beat Marin Cilic in three sets, winning two tie breaks while Zverev, the 16th seed was a straight sets winner over Milos Raonic, beating the Canadian 7-6 6-1.
The French Open is now little over a week away and Djokovic, the defending champion in the men's draw is 7/2 to win again this year with Nadal, seeking his 10th French Open title, priced at 5/6.
Meanwhile, in the women's event Simona Halep is through to the semi-finals.
After winning the Madrid Open last weekend, the Romanian beat Anett Kontaveit 6-2 6-4 in Rome in her quest for back to back titles on clay.
The world number four, a French Open finalist in 2014 but still searching for a first Grand Slam title, now meets Kiki Bertens for a place in the Rome final. Halep is 9/2 to win the French Open next month.
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