May 24, 2019
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Federer kicks off Rome Open run with victory, Verdasco upsets Thiem

Rome, May 16 (efe-epa).- Roger Federer on Thursday marked his return to the 2019 Italian Open tennis tournament with a solid win over Joao Sousa in the second round, while Fernando Verdasco battled back to stun Dominic Thiem.

Switzerland's Federer, the four-time finalist at the clay-court ATP Masters 1,000 event, took one hour and 21 minutes to edge Sousa, 6-4, 6-3, extending his head-to-head record against the Portuguese player to 2-0, following Federer's win at the 2016 Gerry Weber Open contested on grass in the German city of Halle.

The 37-year-old Federer, who reached the 2019 Madrid Masters semifinals last week, was supposed to start his run in Rome on Wednesday, but intense rain all day forced the cancellation of the entire schedule.

So Federer is to play his third-round contest later Thursday as well, facing off against Croatia's Borna Coric, who had a two-day rest following his easy 6-2, 6-2 triumph over Cameron Norrie of the United Kingdom in just 57 minutes Tuesday.

The Swiss player has a 3-2 record in his head-to-head encounter against 22-year-old Coric; their last duel was in the semifinals of the 2019 Dubai Tennis Championships.

Federer has managed to notch two titles thus far this season: the ATP Masters 1,000 Miami and Dubai.

In other Rome Open action on Thursday, Verdasco fought back to get past Thiem, a semifinalist at the 2019 Madrid Masters.

The Spaniard mounted a comeback to knock the Austrian out of the Italian tournament with a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 win.

It took 38th-ranked Verdasco, who reached the semifinals at the Foro Italico in 2010, almost three hours to hand Thiem his fourth defeat following those at the 2015 Wimbledon, the 2017 Paris Masters and the 2018 Rio Open.

Thiem was crowned champion of two tournaments this year thus far, the 2019 ATP Masters 1,000 Indian Wells and the 2019 Barcelona Open.

Next up in a third-round match later Thursday, Verdasco is to take on Karen Khachanov of Russia, who eliminated Spain's Roberto Bautista 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Argentinian Diego Schwartzman powered into Rome's third round at the expense of Spain's Albert Ramos, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1, setting a date with Italy's Matteo Berrettini who stunned Alexander Zverev of Germany 7-5, 7-5 on Tuesday. EFE

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