On Thursday Rafa Nadal went into the quarter-finals of the Italian Open with a hard-earned 6-4 6-1 victory over Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov.

The top seed, who will recover the world numero uno ranking from Roger Federer if he tastes the victory in his eighth title in Rome, turned in a near-perfect performance, losing only five service points as he sharpened his skills on victory in one hour and twenty-two minutes.

“It was a solid match for me,” Nadal said. “I started with some mistakes on the return but with my serve, I didn’t lose many points.”

The Spanish tennis ace will again begin his quest for his first title in Rome in five years against Italian Fabio Fognini.

Fognini fought hard to reach the quarters, coming from 2-4 down in the opening set to defeat German Peter Gojowczyk 6-4 6-4.

Erstwhile world numero uno Novak Djokovic is also in the quarter-finals for the first time this year.

Djokovic, back after a discomfiture elbow injury, showed flashes of his formidable best as he defeated Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-1 7-5 and will meet Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the next round.

Nishikori, like Djokovic, is also trying to return from injury, had entire control against Philipp Kohlschreiber, beating the German 6-1 6-2.

Defending champion Alexander Zverev scraped past Britain’s Kyle Edmund 7-5 7-6 (11) after allowing to lose seven match points and claimed an eleventh consecutive victory that set up a quarter-final clash with ninth seed David Goffin, The fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro was forced to retire due to what seems to be groin injury which throws his participation at the French Open into doubt, was behind Goffin 6-2 4-5. The Paris major begins on May 27.

“I was worried so I decided to stop the game at the end of the second set to see the doctor and see what they say,” Del Potro said. “I will do all of the exams now and then I will try to make a good decision for the future.”

Fourth seed Marin Cilic showed great composure all along his 6-3 6-4 win over Frenchman Benoit Paire.

The Croatian dropped his serve early in the second set, but remained patient, controlling play from the baseline and picking his moments to turn up the heat.

In the semi-finals, Cilic will face Pablo Carreno Busta for a place.

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