Dusan Lajovic set up a meeting with Rafael Nadal as a host of seeds and big names fell by the wayside at the Internazionali d'Italia on Thursday.

Neither Novak Djokovic nor Nadal was in action after scoring victories a day earlier, but there was no shortage of shocks.

Home hopeful and seventh seed Fabio Fognini was among those to lose, going down 7-5 7-6 (7-4) to Ugo Humbert.

The match saw a remarkable 11 breaks of serve, including the first six games of the opener before Fognini was broken to love, then losing an early advantage in the second-set tie-break.

He was joined in making an early exit by US Open quarter-finalist Andrey Rublev.

Beaten by brilliant Russian compatriot Daniil Medvedev in the last eight at Flushing Meadows, Rublev lost in three sets to Hubert Hurkacz on this occasion.

Fifth seed Gael Monfils succumbed 6-2 6-4 to qualifier Dominik Koepfer, while Milos Raonic fell to Lajovic as the Serbian secured the Nadal clash, landing a 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-2 success.

Kei Nishikori also tumbled out as he struggles to regain his rhythm on the ATP Tour.

The former world number four was appearing in just his second tournament of the year due to an elbow injury and then the coronavirus pandemic but could not get past Lorenzo Musetti.

Musetti, an 18-year-old qualifier, had already dumped out Stan Wawrinka and said after his 6-3 6-4 success: "I think I played really smart. It was different to Wawrinka.

"They are great champions and I am really happy right now."

He was the only Italian man to win, though, with Casper Ruud seeing off Lorenzo Sonego.

Denis Shapovalov had a straightforward victory and Diego Schwartzman also headed through in two sets.

Rafael Nadal showed few signs of rust as he swept aside the challenge of Pablo Carreno Busta at the Internazionali d'Italia.

Playing his first match since winning the Mexican Open on February 29 before the sport was shut down, Nadal defeated his fellow Spaniard 6-1 6-1 in just 73 minutes.

It was an emphatic return to action against Carreno Busta, who took Alexander Zverev to five sets after a run to the US Open semi-finals last week.  

World number two Nadal will meet either Milos Raonic or Dusan Lajovic in the last 16.

Both players survived break-point opportunities in their opening service games, before Nadal reeled off five straight games to win the opener.

Carreno Busta stopped the rot with a hold to open the second set but was otherwise powerless to stop Nadal, who won every game from there.

Despite a first-serve percentage of just 49, Nadal only faced one break point in the contest as he beat Carreno Busta for the sixth straight meeting.

Nadal's win on Wednesday came after Novak Djokovic showed little sign of being affected by his US Open default in a 6-3 6-2 win over Salvatore Caruso.

The standout result of the day saw teenage home hope Jannik Sinner record a superb win over third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, triumphing 6-1 6-7 (9-11) 6-2 for just the second top-10 win of his career.

Matteo Berrettini was another Italian to win in Rome as he beat Federico Coria in straight sets, while Marin Cilic defeated sixth seed David Goffin 6-2 6-2.

Novak Djokovic showed little sign of being affected by his US Open default as he bounced back to defeat Salvatore Caruso at the Internazionali d'Italia.

Top seed Djokovic had not played since he was disqualified at Flushing Meadows earlier this month after hitting a line judge with the ball in the fourth round against Pablo Carreno Busta, his first defeat of the season.

But he returned to action in typically composed fashion in Italy, dispatching world number 87 Caruso 6-3 6-2.

Djokovic, who received a bye for round one, took just 84 minutes to claim the victory and will face Mario Cecchinato or Filip Krajinovic in the last 16.

The four-time Rome champion did not face a single break point throughout Wednesday's encounter, converting three of the eight Caruso offered up.

Having clinched the opening set at the second time of asking, Djokovic crucially nosed himself ahead in the second when he broke Caruso in the third game.

At one point during the 11-minute game, Djokovic complained about noise from the mainly empty stands. While fans are not allowed, coaches and tournament officials were in attendance.

"Which one?" the umpire replied, to which a frustrated Djokovic responded: "Which one? There's 10 people in the stands."

However, unlike in New York, Djokovic this time kept a lid on his temper and had the match all but won when he broke the Italian again to make it 5-2, the world number one then duly wrapping up victory with his first match point.  

Rafael Nadal said Dominic Thiem deserved to win the US Open title in New York.

Thiem claimed his maiden major title with a dramatic five-set victory over Alexander Zverev in the final at Flushing Meadows on Sunday.

The Austrian finally broke through after losing three grand slam finals, including two to Nadal at the French Open.

Nadal praised Thiem for his success, which came with the Spaniard and Roger Federer not in the draw and with Novak Djokovic having defaulted in the fourth round.

"I'm happy for Dominic. If somebody deserved to win a big title it's him," he said. 

"A super hard worker, very focused on his goals, a good person, a good human being. He deserved it.

"Sorry to Sascha [Zverev], he was close but in some ways I think even though Sascha played a great final, I think the road to the final from Dominic had been a little bit more solid.

"So in some ways he deserved the title and Sascha will have more chances in the future. But after a lot of years of hard work, I think Dominic deserved it. I'm happy for him."

Nadal is set to face Pablo Carreno Busta at the Internazionali d'Italia in his first match since the ATP Tour season resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Western & Southern Open will not take place on Thursday amid protests against racial injustice.

Teams and players in North America boycotted several games across different sports on Wednesday over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, in Wisconsin.

Blake was repeatedly shot in the back by police, prompting nationwide protests within professional sports.

After two-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka announced she would not play her Western & Southern Open semi-final against Elise Mertens scheduled for Thursday, the tournament was paused.

"As a sport, tennis is collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice that once again has been thrust to the forefront in the United States," a statement read.

"The USTA, ATP Tour, and WTA have decided to recognise this moment in time by pausing tournament play at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday, August 27.

"Play will resume on Friday, August 28."

It remains unclear if that means Osaka will take her place in the draw. The other women's semi-final is between Victoria Azarenka and Johanna Konta.

Novak Djokovic is due to face Roberto Bautista Agut in a men's semi, while Stefanos Tsitsipas is scheduled to take on Milos Raonic.

Novak Djokovic cruised into the Western & Southern Open semi-finals, while defending champion Daniil Medvedev fell on Wednesday.

Djokovic, the world number one, continued his impressive run in New York, where the ATP 1000 event is being held instead of Cincinnati due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Serbian may have been expecting to have Medvedev awaiting him in the last four, but the Russian exited.

Meanwhile, Stefanos Tsitsipas is also into the semi-finals.

 

DJOKOVIC RACES THROUGH

Djokovic needed just 62 minutes to breeze past Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 6-1 to reach a record-equalling eighth Western & Southern Open semi.

The 17-time grand slam champion, who is yet to drop a set at the tournament, improved to 21-0 this year.

Djokovic tied Jimmy Connors, Stefan Edberg, Roger Federer and Bill Talbert's semi-final totals at the ATP 1000 tournament.

BAUTISTA AGUT BEATS MEDVEDEV

Defending champion and last year's US Open runner-up, Medvedev departed in the quarter-finals.

Medvedev, the third seed, was beaten by eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut 1-6 6-4 6-3.

Bautista Agut has lost eight of his 11 meetings with Djokovic, but won two of their three clashes last year.

TSITSIPAS THROUGH AS RAONIC SAVES MP

Tsitsipas was only on court for 38 minutes before Reilly Opelka retired due to a right knee injury.

Opelka led 6-5 against the fourth seed before retiring due to the injury.

Tsitsipas will face Milos Raonic, who saved a match point before overcoming Filip Krajinovic 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-5.

Raonic saved a match point in the 10th game of the third set, winning 11 of the final 13 points to advance.

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