Rafael Nadal is set to take on Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals of the Italian Open and the Spaniard will be looking to make it to the semi-finals as he looks to claim his fourth straight title of 2017. Nadal has dominated all the clay court tournaments so far having won the Monte Carlo Masters, the Barcelona open and the Madrid Open.
Nadal faced Jack Sock in his previous match and Thiem would have been hoping for Sock to cause an upset as the Austrian has already lost to Nadal twice this year, first in the finals of the Barcelona Open and then the Madrid Open. Thiem will certainly do all in his power to avoid another defeat at the hands of Nadal but given the Spaniards current form it's highly unlikely.
Nadal hardly had to break a sweat in his first match against Nicolas Almagro as he was forced to retire early on in the match due to a knee injury. He faced American Sock in the next round and eased past him in straight winning 6-3, 6-4 and in the process extended his winning streak on clay to 17 matches and also remained undefeated against Sock.
Nadal is on course for a clean sweep of the big European clay titles and despite looking unstoppable and at the top of his game at the moment, the Spaniard still believes that there is always room to improve.
"There is always room to improve. That's why I wake up every morning. I go to practice with the motivation to improve something. 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," Live tennis quoted Nadal as saying.
Nadal is chasing his eighth title at the Italian Open and will certainly be the favourite heading into this match against Thiem but the Austrian has been one of the better players this season on clay and he could certainly put up a tough fight against Nadal. More importantly, after losing to him in two finals already this year, he will be determined to avoid a third straight defeat.
While Thiem has struggled in most of the hard court tournaments this season, he has an impressive 16-3 record on clay this season which includes a title at the Rio Open earlier this year.
Thiem defeated Pablo Cuevas, his opponent from the Madrid Open semi-finals, in straight sets in his first match at the Italian Open and followed that up with a hard fought victory against Sam Querrey. Thiem lost the first set and saved three match points in the final set tie break to make it to the quarter-finals.
After his win against Querrey, Thiem said: "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. I'm happy that I beat a tough opponent today."
This meeting between Nadal and Thiem will be their sixth meeting with Nadal leading their head-to-head record 4-1. Apart from those two meetings at the Barcelona Open and Madrid Open finals, Nadal defeated Thiem at the French Open in 2014 and in Monte Carlo last year. Thiem's only win over Nadal came in 2016 at Buenos Aires.
Where to watch
The Italian Open quarter-final clash between Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem is set to tentatively start at 4:00pm local time, 7:30pm IST and 3:00pm BST.
TV and live streaming information
India: TV: Ten 3. Live Streaming: Sony Liv.
USA: TV: Tennis Channel. Live Streaming: Tennis Channel Live.
UK: TV: Sky Sports 3/HD, Sky Sports 2/HD. Live streaming: Sky Go.
Global live stream: Live tennis.