Italian Open 2018: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal Advance to Round of 16

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

Thiem gearing up for Nadal rematch

His only defeat on the surface in 2018 was against Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals of last week's Madrid Open. He broke in the 11th game and later served out the set.

Meanwhile, clay king Nadal was relieved to be back winning as he builds towards the French Open, racing to a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Bosnian Damir Dzumhur.

Earlier, former world number one Novak Djokovic crashed out of the tournament after going down against British player Kyle Edmund in the second round.

"It was important, after a loss in Madrid, to come back strong", the 31-year-old, who received a bye in the opening round, said. "I don't know how many mistakes I did, but not much", said Nadal.Djokovic, a four-time victor, is on the comeback trail three months after elbow surgery and eased past Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-2.

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During his time with Parma he also won the Coppa Italia, UEFA Cup and Italian Supercoppa in 1999. Gigi's eyes don't give me the feeling he wants to stop. "A lot of people have loved me here".

Novak Djokovic, a four-time victor in Rome, powered into the third round with a convincing 6-4 6-2 win over Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Also on the red clay, Kei Nishikori rallied to beat third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-4.

The Serb will next play Spaniard Albert Ramos Vinolas who squeezed past American eighth seed John Isner 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/5).

Halep needs to reach at least the quarterfinals or risk losing the top spot to Caroline Wozniacki.

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Osaka had every reason to be confident heading into her clash with Halep after beating her 6-3, 6-0 at Indian Wells in March, but on this occasion, she collapsed after a wasteful start.

"I went on court with the right intensity". Due to that, the southpaw not only failed to defend his Madrid title but also had to relinquish the top ranking to his greatest nemesis, Roger Federer.

Get prep sports breaking news alerts from the Gwinnett Daily Post staff delivered to your email. After two victories in two weeks, Zverev became the youngest victor of the tournament since Rafael Nadal who won it at the age of 19. Nishikori, now ranked No 24 as he continues his return from injury, was down breaks in both the second and third sets before fighting back to claim a hard-fought victory.

Quarter-final appearances in the Rio Open, Mexican Open, the Monte Carlo Open AND the Barcelona Open in the opening months of the season has kept Thiem at a consistent eighth place in the world rankings, but a slight drop from his previous peak position of number four in November 2017.

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Nadal will next face Canada's Denis Shapovalov, who faced a grueling test in battling past Dutchman Robin Haase 7-6 (3), 6-7 (5), 6-3 in almost two and a half hours.

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