Austrian’s Dominic Thiem added to his burgeoning reputation with a dominant 6-4 6-3 win over Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-3 in the quarter-final of the Rome Masters on Friday.
This comes a week after Nadal, a seven-time champion in the eternal city, dominated the Austrian to claim a fifth Madrid Masters crown.
Thiem, 23, becomes the first man to beat Nadal on claycourt in 2017 following a sensational return to form that has seen the Spaniard go 17-1 this season.
With his booming forehands and aggressive approach, Thiem raced to a 5-1 lead in the first set.
Nadal would fight back to 5-4, but a shocked centre court watched on as Thiem held to take the opening set 6-4.
The second set went with serve until the seventh game when Thiem broke and powered on to the end 6-3 in 1hr 51 minutes.
He will now meet the winner of the quarterfinal clash between Serbian four-time champion, Novak Djokovic and unseeded Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro, as he looks to become the second Austrian after Thomas Muster in 1996 to triumph in the Italian capital.
With Djokovic stuttering and world no 1 Andy Murray out of sorts, Thiem is already looking like the main obstacle between Nadal and a 10th French Open title later this month.