World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and French Open owner Rafael Nadal will meet in the quarterfinals at Rome on Friday after both winning through tough matches on Thursday.
Djokovic came back from a bagel to beat Thomaz Bellucci 0-6, 6-3, 6-2, and Nadal likewise came from a set down to outlast Nick Kyrgios 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-4.
“I’m playing well, I feel like I am playing at the right level,” said Nadal, who may have benefited from a Kyrgios hip injury. “Today was an important victory for me, of course, against a very difficult opponent. And coming back after a tough first set that I had a lot of opportunities. I believe, after the first six games I think I had more chances than him, but I had couple of mistakes on those chances. And then on the tiebreak I hit one double fault and then he played great.”
Djokovic found a way to turn it around against Bellucci.
“After the first set I had to change,” Djokovic said. “First set was a complete Bellucci storm, and I was blown away from the court. Fortunately the matches are played in best of three, so I had another opportunity to come back and to restart, which I did.”
Other Top 10 winners were No. 2 Andy Murray rolling Jeremy Chardy 6-0, 6-4, and No. 6 Kei Nishikori handling No. 11 Richard Gasquet 6-1, 6-4.
“It could have been more comfortable in the second set,” said Murray, who will next face No. 12 seed David Goffin, who upset No. 8 Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-0. “But apart from a few minutes of the match, I played very well. I was making it difficult for him and played a lot of different shots. I used a lot of variety so that was good.”
On the upset tip No. 13 Dominic Thiem beat a back-addled No. 3 Roger Federer 7-6(2), 6-4, Juan Monaco topped No. 4 Stan Wawrinka 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4, and France’s Lukas Pouille rolled No. 9 David Ferrer 6-4, 6-1.
“I’m confident and hopeful at the same time,” Federer said after the loss. “I have only played five matches in the last four months now, so clearly I don’t want to get too overly excited about what’s ahead, but at the same time I’m a positive thinker and I believe that I’m going to recover. Hopefully, the next 10 days are going to be easier and I can practice really well, sort of starting next week. That’s the hope I have and then we’ll see the rest, how it’s going to come.”
Friday’s quarterfinals will be (1) Djokovic vs. (5) Nadal, (2) Murray vs. (12) Goffin, (13) Thiem vs. (6) Nishikori, and Pouille vs. Monaco.
FRIDAY ROME SCHEDULE
CENTER COURT start 12:00 noon
WTA –  T. Bacsinszky (SUI) vs  G. Muguruza (ESP)
Not Before 2:00 pm
ATP –  D. Goffin (BEL) vs  A. Murray (GBR)
ATP –  N. Djokovic (SRB) vs  R. Nadal (ESP)
Not Before 7:30 pm
WTA –  S. Williams (USA) vs  S. Kuznetsova (RUS)
Not Before 9:00 pm
ATP –  D. Thiem (AUT) vs  K. Nishikori (JPN)
GRANDSTAND start 12:00 noon
ATP – [LL] L. Pouille (FRA) vs [PR] J. Monaco (ARG)
Not Before 2:00 pm
WTA – I. Begu (ROU) vs M. Doi (JPN)
Not Before 3:30 pm
WTA – M. Keys (USA) vs B. Strycova (CZE)
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