Verdasco Upsets Thiem In Rome; Struff Beats Cilic
Nishikori to play Struff in third round
Fernando Verdasco turned back the clock, playing with great power and discipline on Thursday at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, to extend his perfect record against Dominic Thiem in a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 win over two hours and 44 minutes.
"Dominic is right now, for me, Top 3 on clay, for sure," said Verdasco. "Obviously, I think that 3-0 record for me in the previous matches gives me extra confidence... I think it was an unbelievable match. I think both of us had chances to win the match. I think he played much, much better obviously than the last time we played in Rio.
"For me it's always amazing to beat a player as good as him. That gives me a lot of happiness and a lot of confidence."
The 35-year-old Spaniard may well have rued two mis-hits when he had three break points on fifth seed Thiem’s serve at 4-4 in the deciding set, but two games later Thiem guided a forehand volley wide at deuce and paid the price.
Verdasco, a semi-finalist at the Foro Italico in 2010, will now play Russian No. 11 seed Karen Khachanov in the third round later on Thursday.
"Mentally, I think I will be ready for this afternoon, hopefully physically. I hope with the confidence that I have this morning, I hope I can play like it against Karen Khachanov. Super tough match. Last week, we played in Madrid, I beat him also 7-5 in the third. Right now, I'm just enjoying for a couple hours this victory, because it's not going to be too long, then just get ready for the next one, give it my all. Let's see."
Elsewhere, Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff lost just one of his first-service points to record his third Top 10 match win of 2019 by beating ninth seed Marin Cilic, a semi-finalist in Rome last year, 6-2, 6-3 in 69 minutes on a sun baked Court 2. Cilic had beaten the 29-year-old 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 last week in the Mutua Madrid Open second round.
Struff will now rest to prepare to face sixth-seeded Japanese Kei Nishikori in the third round. Nishikori, the 2016 semi-finalist, proved to be too strong for American qualifier Taylor Fritz 6-2, 6-4 in 72 minutes.
"I feel very good," said Nishikori. "A very good start. It wasn't an easy match, because the court was little bit quicker for him. I played [a] very solid match [in the] first and second sets. I haven't played two matches in one day for a long time. I will see how it goes. Luckily I finished quickly. I should be okay physically. I'm looking forward to play next one."