Rafael Nadal made short work of Denis Shapovalov to reach the Italian Open quarter-finalsRafael Nadal made short work of Denis Shapovalov to reach the Italian Open quarter-finals (AFP Photo/Andreas SOLARO)
Rome (AFP) - Rafael Nadal brushed aside Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov with a 6-4, 6-1 victory at the Italian Open as Novak Djokovic showed he is on the comeback trail by reaching his first quarter-final of 2018 on Thursday.
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.
"I think Rafa played incredible today," said Shapovalov. "He's been playing at a really high level for this whole clay season. So, you know, it's credit to him. He was just simply too good today."
Top seed Nadal recorded his 20th clay-court win of the year while Shapovalov will at least have the consolation of becoming the Canadian number one on Monday.
"It was a solid match for me," said Nadal. "I started with some mistakes on the return. But with my serve, I didn't lose many points.
"At the beginning, I really think that he was serving big. I got the break in the 3-all. And then the match changed. He probably stopped to serve that big a little bit, and I was a little bit more relaxed."
The Spaniard will next take on Fognini, a player he holds a 10-3 record against including five straight wins in their most recent matches.
Fognini got past Germany's Peter Gojowczyk 6-4, 6-4.
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).
For Zverev it was an 11th consecutive win after back-to-back title runs at Munich and Madrid.
The 21-year-old will play Belgian David Goffin who advanced when Argentine fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro retired while trailing 6-2, 4-5 with a groin injury.
- Halep, Sharapova advance -
In the women's tournament, Simona Halep boosted her bid to retain the world number one ranking as the top seed advanced to the quarter-finals after American Madison Keys withdrew injured with a painful rib.
The Romanian, a finalist in Rome last year, is on her way to holding on to top spot as she next plays France's Caroline Garcia who dumped out US Open champion Sloane Stephens 6-1, 7-6 (9/7).
Halep needed to reach at least the last eight and go further than world number two Caroline Wozniacki to retain the top-ranking going into the French Open.
Three-time winner Maria Sharapova ousted Daria Gavrilova 6-3, 6-4 and will play fifth seed and French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko who saw off Britain's Johanna Konta 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Venus Williams fell to her second defeat in a week to Estonia's Anett Kontaveit, losing in the third-round match in straight sets.
The 22-year-old Kontaveit won through 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) against the 37-year-old American who was seeded eighth in a tournament she won nearly two decades ago in 1999.
Kontaveit, who also beat Williams last week in Madrid, next plays either second seed Wozniacki or Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova for a place in the semi-finals.
Defending champion Elina Svitolina of Ukraine fought back from a first set wipeout against Daria Kasatkina to win 0-6, 6-3, 6-2.