TENNIS

Italian Open: Nadal brushes aside Shapovalov challenge to enter quarters, Djokovic advances

The 31-year-old will face Italian Fabio Fognini in the last eight.

Rafael Nadal brushed aside the challenge of Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov with a 6-4, 6-1 victory to reach the Italian Open quarter-finals on Thursday. The 31-year-old will face Italian Fabio Fognini in the last eight as he looks to retake the world number one ranking from Roger Federer by winning an eighth Rome title this week.

Nadal has already won his 11th titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona during the current clay-court season, but has lost in the quarter-finals in each of the last three years in Italy. He was far too strong for Shapovalov, taking the opening set with a break in the seventh game before racing through the second to gain a measure of revenge for his shock defeat by the 19-year-old in Montreal last year.

Meanwhile, Djokovic moved into his first quarter-final since Wimbledon last July when he defeated Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-1, 7-5. The four-time Rome champion is making his way back this year after a six-month injury absence before the Australian Open, which was followed by elbow surgery.

“It felt good,” said the 12-time Grand Slam winner. “I’ve historically always played well in Rome, and I feel like each match is getting better.”

The 30-year-old set up a clash with Japan’s Kei Nishikori for a semi-final berth. Germany’s Alexander Zverev, who beat Djokovic in last year’s final, kept his title defence on track but needed eight match points to see off Briton Kyle Edmund 7-5, 7-6 (13/11).

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