Tennis - Fognini to face Nadal in Rome after winning all-Italian clash

Fabio Fognini will be the first player to attempt to beat defending champion Rafael Nadal at the Rome Masters after he beat fellow Italian Andreas Seppi 6-4 6-1 in the first round.

Tennis - Fognini to face Nadal in Rome after winning all-Italian clash

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Italy's Fabio Fognini at the Rome Masters (Reuters)

Fognini secured the victory in just 69 minutes as he capitalised on five of his eight break point opportunities to set up the daunting match-up with the Spanish clay-court king.

Nadal, fresh from his triumph at the Madrid Masters, has already laid down his marker ahead of the French Open at Roland Garros, where he will be the favourite to defend his title.

Fognini, who has now reeled off three successive victories over his compatriot Seppi on clay, has yet to face Nadal on the ATP Tour.

Meanwhile, 14th seed Milos Raonic was dumped out of the tournament in his first round match against Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, who won 7-6(2) 6-4 without facing a single break point.

Rome Masters results

Philipp Kohlschreiber (Germany) beat 14-Milos Raonic (Canada) 7-6(2) 6-4

Albert Montanes (Spain) beat Martin Klizan (Slovakia) 3-6 7-5 6-3

Jerzy Janowicz (Poland) beat Santiago Giraldo (Colombia) 7-5 6-2

Fabio Fognini (Italy) beat Andreas Seppi (Italy) 6-4 6-1

Ernests Gulbis (Latvia) beat Jarkko Nieminen (Finland) 6-2 7-6(6)

11-Marin Cilic (Croatia) beat Andrey Golubev (Kazakhstan) 6-4 6-2

Potito Starace (Italy) beat Radek Stepanek (Czech Republic) 4-6 6-4 6-3

Andrey Kuznetsov (Russia) beat Xavier Malisse (Belgium) 6-2 3-1 (Malisse retired)

Benoit Paire (France) beat Juan Monaco (Argentina) 7-6(4) 1-6 6-4

Albert Ramos (Spain) beat Jan Hajek (Czech Republic) 7-5 6-0

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