Tournament favorites Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic both powered into the Rome Masters quarterfinals on Friday.
With a potential Monday final looming between the two, Nadal jumped out quick then fought off Dusan Lajovic 6-1, 6-3. The Serb got a break back in the second but Rafa returned to a 15th Rome quarter.
“I played at I think a very positive level of tennis. Of course it needs to keep improving. I need to keep working on a couple of things that are not coming automatically. But I can’t ask for more,” said Nadal who won 10 of the first 11 games. “Another great evening for me against another good opponent. Can’t complain at all. Much better what I expected.”
Next for Rafa is Diego Schwartzman who dodged Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
“Always has been very tough and tricky matches against him,” said Nadal who leads the Argentine 9-0. “I know I have to play very well if I want to have chances and that’s what I’m going to try.”
Djokovic had a much tougher time, fighting past friend and countryman Filip Krajinovic 7-6(7), 6-3. Krajinovic led 4-1 in the breaker before Djokovic came back to take an almost 90-minute opening set.
“It was definitely one of the longest sets I think I have ever played,” said Djokovic. “Never easy, I think, emotionally to play against someone that is one of my best friends for many years… I think the first set could have gone a different way, as well.
“Fortunately for me it went my way, and that allowed me to swing through the ball a bit more in the second set. Maybe physically and mentally he dropped a level, and I used my opportunities and capitalized to win in straight sets.”
Qualifier Dominik Koepfer, who ended the run of Italian teen Lorenzo Musetti, is ahead for Djokovic.
Denis Shapovalov kept his nice clay campaign going outlasting Ugo Humbert in three sets 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4. He’ll meet Grigor Dimitrov in a good one. Dimitrov also beat an Italian teen in Jannik Sinner 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Top ranked Italian Matteo Berrettini will collide with Casper Ruud.
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