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Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem could meet in the quarterfinals for the third straight Masters 1000 event should they both reach the last eight at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
Thiem took just two games off Nadal in their first clay court encounter of the year in Monte Carlo before avenging the defeat on Friday at the Madrid Masters. The Austrian has now won three of the nine matches the two have played and will hope to close their head-to-head yet further should another meeting ensue at the Foro Italico this week.
Nadal and Thiem is not the only possible blockbuster quarterfinal Friday’s draw on Court Pietrangeli threw up, Alexander Zverev and Juan Martin del Potro is another potential last eight showdown in the bottom half of the draw.
Definitely on the cards is a first round clash between Italy’s Fabio Fognini and the flamboyant Frenchman Gael Monfils, while No. 15 seed Tomas Berdych will have his hands full when he takes on Canadian youngster Denis Shapovalov.
Grigor Dimitrov, four-time champion Novak Djokovic, Sam Querrey and John Isner are the other notable seeds in the top half of the draw, which also features an interesting first round encounter in Kei Nishikori against Feliciano Lopez.
Stan Wawrinka, who has been struggling with a calf injury, will play his first match since February when he takes on Steve Johnson. Madrid Masters semi-finalist Kevin Anderson is a possible third round opponent for the Swiss player with Marin Cilic likely to be standing in his way in the last eight, if the three-time Grand Slam champion can advance that far.
Also in the bottom half are No. 9 seed David Goffin, who will begin his quest for a first Masters 1000 title against Leonardo Mayer, and No. 16 seed Lucas Pouille, who opens against Italian wild card Andreas Seppi.