May 21, 2018

Zverev joins Nadal, Djokovic in Rome third round

17 May 2018, 06:20 | Joan Schultz

Rafael Nadal looks to seal last-eight spot at Madrid Open

Dominic Thiem serves against Fabio Fognini during Rome's ATP Tennis Open tournament at the Foro Italico

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic both secured straight sets victories at the Italian Open on Wednesday. Djokovic, a four-time victor at Rome, had five aces in the match and will next face Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who rallied past eighth-seeded American John Isner 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5) in two hours, 53 minutes. He broke in the 11th game and later served out the set.

Rounding out the day's action, 10th-seeded Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta bested American Steve Johnson 6-4, 2-6, 6-4; Frenchman Benoit Paire upset 14th-seeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 and Great Britain's Kyle Edmund defeated 16th-seeded Frenchman Lucas Pouille 6-2, 7-6 (3).

"It was important after a loss in Madrid to come back strong". The 16-time Grand Slam victor next takes on either Canadian Denis Shapovalov, 19, or Robin Haase of the Netherlands. Djokovic will play Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who rallied past eighth-seeded John Isner 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5).

Djokovic was up against Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili and settled down after a nervy start to wrap up a 6-4, 6-2 victory after one hour and 18 minutes.

Bulgarian third seed Grigor Dimitrov also suffered an early exit, going out to Japan's Kei Nishikori after a marathon 6-7 (4/7), 7-5, 6-4 battle.

As a result, the 31-year-old lost his top rank to long-time rival Roger Federer in the updated ATP Rankings, but Nadal can retain his top spot with a win at the Rome Masters.

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"I just really wanted to win this match against a really classy player", said the five-time Grand Slam champion.

Maria Sharapova saved two break points in the third set to get past Dominika Cibulkova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

He had to recover against Haase in the first set of Wednesday's match after giving up a 5-2 lead.

Nadal will be keen to settle scores with him after suffering a narrow three-set defeat to Shapovalov at the latter's home at the Montreal Masters previous year.

US Open champion Sloane Stephens will play France's Caroline Garcia for a quarter-final place.

World No 5 Karolina Pliskova was eliminated by Maria Sakkari in controversial circumstances, prompting the Czech to react by smashing her racket against the umpire's chair at the end of the match.

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