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Watch highlights of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Milos Raonic advancing, while John Isner upsets Stan Wawrinka Thursday at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome. Watch live matches at tennistv.com. Photo: Pete Staples/ATP World Tour.

Nadal To Face Familiar Foe Thiem In QFs

Nadal and Thiem prevail on Thursday

Rafael Nadal continued his unbeaten streak on clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, weathering a mid-match surge from 13th seed Jack Sock to advance 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday. He will now play eighth seed Dominic in the quarter-finals, marking their third meeting in four weeks.

“There is always room to improve. That's why I wake up every morning. I go to practice with the motivation to improve something,” said Nadal. “I can keep serving better. I can hit some more winners with the forehand and it’s something that I am working on every day to try and make happen. But it’s obvious that I am playing well and I should be very happy with the way that I am doing things.”

Nadal improves his win streak on clay this year to 17-0 and 33-2 in sets, in addition to picking up a tour-leading 36th win in 2017.  He also extends his FedEx ATP Head2Head dominance over Sock to 4-0 as he continues his pursuit of an eighth Rome title.

Nadal will next face a familiar foe in eighth seed Dominic Thiem, who saved three match points to survive Sam Querrey 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(7). The 23-year-old Austrian also saved five match points last week to defeat Grigor Dimitrov in their round of 16 match at the Mutua Madrid Open.

“I think he's not the biggest clay-court specialist, but he really played well. I saved match points, so it could easily have gone the other way,” said Thiem. “I’m happy that I beat a tough opponent today.”

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The Spaniard scored straight-sets victories over Thiem this year in the Barcelona and Madrid finals. He leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with the Austrian 4-1. All of their matches have taken place on clay.

“There is always room to improve. That's why I wake up every morning. I go to practice with the motivation to improve something,” said Nadal. “I can keep serving better. I can hit some more winners with the forehand and it’s something that I am working on every day to try and make happen. But it’s obvious that I am playing well and I should be very happy with the way that I am doing things.”

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Nadal stormed out to a 3-0 lead in the opening set against Sock and held the momentum to grab the early advantage. It appeared that the Spaniard would race to victory after breaking Sock to start the second set, but the American broke back in the next game with timely trips to the net as the fourth seed stood far behind the baseline. There was even a huge forehand winner from Sock in the match that lit up Campo Centrale.

But at 4-4, a loose game from Sock saw him hand another break to Nadal with three unforced errors. Nadal took full advantage and comfortably held in the next game to wrap up the win in 80 minutes.

A single break of serve in each set was all Thiem and Querrey needed to head to a decider, and both men held serve throughout the final set to force a tie-break. Thiem’s gutsy hitting resulted in him saving two match points down 4/6 and another at 6/7 before prevailing in one hour and 55 minutes. 

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