Stefanos Tsitsipas battled through to the Miami Open round of 16 and he was joined by Andrey Rublev on Monday.

Greek star and second seed Tsitsipas got the better of 2014 US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori in Miami.

Rublev continued his fine 2021 with a straight-sets demolition of Marton Fucsovics at the ATP 1000 tournament.

In-form Aslan Karatsev, however, bowed out following a surprise loss to Sebastian Korda.

 

TSITSIPAS HALTS NISHIKORI

Despite a mid-match wobble, Tsitsipas overcame Nishikori 6-3 3-6 6-1 to reach the fourth round.

Former world number four Nishikori forced a deciding set but Tsitsipas withstood the Japanese's comeback.

Tsitsipas, who hit 32 winners, will meet Lorenzo Sonego for a place in the quarter-finals after the 24th seed defeated Daniel Elahi Galan 7-6 (8-6) 6-3.

 

RUBLEV STAYS HOT

Russian fourth seed Rublev made light work of Fucsovics 6-2 6-1 in just 52 minutes.

Rublev leads the ATP Tour with 18 victories this season after eliminating the in-form Hungarian, ahead of top seed Daniil Medvedev (16-2).

The result secured a third win for Rublev over 29th seed Fucsovics this month.

"I was laughing, because of [the] situation and plus Marton also told me, 'I don't want to see you. I don't want to see you'," Rublev said, cracking a laugh. "[It was] just a situation that [was] fun, and I feel sorry."

Awaiting Rublev is 2014 US Open champion and former world number three Marin Cilic, who beat Lorenzo Musetti 6-3 6-4.

 

KARATSEV CONQUERED

For only the third time this year, Australian Open semi-finalist and Dubai Tennis Championships winner Karatsev tasted defeat following a 6-3 6-0 loss at the hands of Korda.

American sensation Korda became the first player outside the top five to beat Karatsev this year, with the latter's previous two losses coming against world number one Novak Djokovic and world number four Dominic Thiem.

"It is super special [to reach the Round of 16], especially playing a guy who was as hot as he was," said Korda. "I just took the tactics that I used [against him] at Roland Garros and it worked out really well today."

Diego Schwartzman stands in the way of Korda and the quarters after the fifth seed accounted for Adrian Mannarino 6-1 6-4.

Elsewhere, Denis Shapovalov – the sixth seed – was upstaged by Hubert Hurkacz 6-3 7-6 (8-6).

Another Canadian awaits Hurkacz after 12th seed Milos Raonic was a 6-4 7-5 winner against Ugo Humbert.

Stefanos Tsitsipas continued his strong run of form en route to the Miami Open third round, while Aslan Karatsev's maintained his fairytale run in 2021.

Greek star Tsitsipas flexed his muscles in a straight-sets win over Damir Dzumhur on Saturday.

Australian Open semi-finalist and Dubai Tennis Championships winner Karatsev enjoyed a victorious Miami debut.

Andrey Rublev, Diego Schwartzman, Denis Shapovalov, Marin Cilic and Milos Raonic also progressed at the ATP 1000 tournament.

 

TSITSIPAS STAYS HOT

World number five Tsitsipas eased past Dzumhur 6-1 6-4 in his first appearance since losing in last week's Mexican Open final.

Tsitsipas (15-4) became the third player to reach 15 wins this season, the second seed following in the footsteps of Russian duo Rublev (17-3) and Daniil Medvedev (15-2).

"It was a great match, especially against a guy that I probably don't have a good record playing against in the past," said Tsitsipas. "I started the match very strong, breaking him twice and taking a big lead in the score, and I think the things worked out by themselves after that."

Tsitsipas will face Kei Nishikori after the Japanese outlasted Aljaz Bedene 7-6 (8-6) 5-7 6-4.

 

NO STOPPING KARATSEV

Karatsev's Miami Open debut ended in a 6-4 6-3 win for the 17th-seeded Russian over Mikhail Kukushkin.

Already in the ATP's top 100 and set to keep climbing, Karatsev broke serve four times en route to the next round, where Sebastian Korda awaits after upstaging 10th seed Fabio Fognini 1-6 6-4 6-2.

"Of course it gives me confidence to win my first title, but you arrive here and it’s a different surface and new tournament," said Karatsev, who ended last season ranked 112th before bursting into the top 30 behind his semi-final run at Melbourne Park. "So you try [to think of it] as a new tournament and new place, but of course it gives me a lot of confidence."

Karatsev owns a 13-2 record this year, with his only two losses coming against world number one Novak Djokovic and US Open champion Dominic Thiem.

 

RUBLEV ROLLS ON

Fourth seed Rublev has proven to be remarkably consistent, highlighted by his crushing 6-1 6-2 rain-interrupted victory against Tennys Sandgren.

Having equalled his previous best run in Miami, Rublev will play 29th seed Marton Fucsovics who took down Thanasi Kokkinakis 7-6 (7-3) 6-7 (4-7) 6-4.

Rublev has won a Tour-leading 17 matches this year.

Elsewhere, fifth seed Schwartzman was a 6-3 6-3 winner against Yasutaka Uchiyama, Shapovalov – the sixth seed – trumped Ilya Ivashka 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-4 in a marathon, 12th seed Raonic accounted for Jordan Thompson 6-2 6-1, former US Open winner Cilic surprised 13th seed Christian Garin 3-6 7-5 7-6 (7-5), while 15th seed Alex de Minaur was eliminated.

Andrey Rublev's ATP 500 winning streak came to an end at the hands of Aslan Karatsev on a history-making day at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Rublev had won 23 consecutive matches at this level, second only to Roger Federer (28), but Karatsev finally ended the Russian's remarkable run to progress to his first ATP singles final.

Karatsev, who incredibly went from qualifying to the semi-finals of the Australian Open this year, defeated his compatriot 6-2 4-6 6-4.

He became the first Wild Card to reach the final since Thomas Muster in 1997, doing so by hitting 41 winners and forcing 16 break points – of which he won four – during two hours and 12 minutes on court.

"It was a really tight match [against a] tough opponent," Karatsev said in his on-court interview.

"It was an unbelievable performance [from Andrey]. He didn't lose a match at an ATP 500 in [one year]. Everything was decided in one or two points, I feel happy."

The championship match will be between two first-time Dubai finalists after Lloyd Harris stunned Denis Shapovalov in the other semi-final.

World number 81 Harris, who overcame top seed Dominic Thiem, 14th seed Filip Krajinovic and former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori to reach the last four, came from a set and 4-2 down to defeat world number 12 Shapovalov.

He prevailed 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 7-6 (8-6) to reach a maiden ATP 500 final and become the first qualifier to reach the showpiece in Dubai.

"I don't have many words right now. I am super happy with that win," Harris said on court afterwards.

"Being a set and 2-4 down is mentally and physically a little bit troublesome for me, but I found my best tennis from there. I am just extremely happy with the result right now."

Denis Shapovalov secured a straight-sets win over Jeremy Chardy to set up a semi-final showdown with qualifier Lloyd Harris at the Dubai Tennis Championships. 

The third seed struck 26 winners en route to a 7-5 6-4 triumph on Thursday, but it was his serve that pleased him most.

Shapovalov, ranked 12th in the world, sent down 10 aces as Frenchman Chardy was deprived of any break-point openings.

"I've focused on my serve a lot in the past couple of weeks," the Canadian said.

"I have worked on placing it and tried out different types of serves to have more variation. I hope I can continue that.

"I've also worked on my footwork and positioning during rallies. I am feeling the ball well on both sides. If I am moving well, everything goes into place."

Harris was a surprise winner over Kei Nishikori, sealing a 6-1 3-6 6-3 success to dump out the former world number four.

Second seed Andrey Rublev defeated Marton Fucsovics 7-5 6-2 and will now face fellow Russian Aslan Karatsev.

Wildcard Karatsev continued his run with a hard-fought victory over teenager Jannik Sinner, coming from a set down in a 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-2 win.

A "tired" Roger Federer was "incredibly happy" to mark his long-awaited return with a battling victory over Dan Evans in the second round of the Qatar Open.

Swiss legend Federer had been out of action for 14 months after undergoing knee surgery, but he was back in business with a 7-6 (10-8) 3-6 7-5 win over Briton Evans.

The 20-time grand slam champion had spent a lot of time practicing with Evans in recent weeks before making his comeback and they spent another two hours and 24 minutes on court in a tight tussle on Wednesday.

Federer was delighted to be back after such a lengthy absence and the 39-year-old's next test will come against Nikoloz Basilashvili in the quarter-finals in Doha.

He said: "I was tired, I was more focused on being tired than winning the points. If I was going to go out, I was going to go out swinging. Dan had more energy left at the end but I was serving well and I thought I played a really good match. I'm incredibly happy about my performance.

"It was a pleasure to share the court with Dan and always nice to finish off with a backhand down the line on match point. The important think is how I feel tomorrow and the next day and so forth for the next six months.

"It's been a long and tough road for me. I enjoyed it though, it's been a huge challenge in my tennis career."

Top seed Dominic Thiem earlier needed three sets to defeat wildcard Aslan Karatsev 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-2, while the in-form Andrey Rublev was given a walkover after Richard Gasquet withdrew due to a leg injury.

Denis Shapovalov beat Vasek Pospisil in an all-Canadian encounter, while Roberto Bautista Agut was among the other winners.

Karen Khachanov reached the quarter-finals of the Open 13 Provence with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 win over Mackenzie McDonald, while Jannik Sinner ousted Hugo Gaston in straight sets.

Cameron Norrie, Matthew Ebden and Egor Gerasimov were also victorious in Marseille.

Novak Djokovic admitted there was plenty of room for improvement after coming through a "difficult spot" at the Australian Open, where Nick Kyrgios thrilled the crowd with an impressive comeback.

Top seed Djokovic was made to work for his 6-3 6-7 (7-3) 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 triumph against Frances Tiafoe as he reached the third round in Melbourne. 

Kyrgios is also through, albeit he even surprised himself by rallying from the brink of defeat to knock out 29th seed Ugo Humbert in the evening session. 

Stan Wawrinka was on the wrong of an upset on Wednesday, but there were no such problems for fellow seeds Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, Diego Schwartzman and Milos Raonic. 

Meanwhile, Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime will have to put their friendship to one side when they face each other next, the former setting up the all-Canadian clash by beating Bernard Tomic in three sets.


'PASSIVE' DJOKOVIC STILL MAKING PROGRESS

In the first meeting between the pair, the impressive Tiafoe went toe-to-toe with Djokovic on Rod Laver Arena.  

The 23-year-old American's performance – coupled with the Melbourne heat – made the eight-time Australian Open champion sweat, albeit Djokovic felt he could have made life easier for himself.

"I was at times not feeling my timing as well as I normally am. Credit to him. I think he has managed to come out with a great performance and quality of tennis. He put me in a difficult spot," he said. 

"I had my chances early in the second set. If I broke him there, maybe the course of the match would be different.   

"But again, he was holding his serve very well. I was not really using my break-point chances very well. At times I was too passive. Just wasn't feeling the ball today as well as I normally do." 

Next up for Djokovic is another player from the United States in the form of Taylor Fritz, who ousted compatriot Reilly Opelka in a five-set battle.


IN THE NICK OF TIME

Kyrgios described his clash with Humbert as "one of the craziest matches I've ever played" after prevailing 5-7 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 - much to the delight of an enthralled audience who watched the drama unfold on John Cain Arena.

The Australian smashed a racket, lost his cool with umpire Marijana Veljovic over a faulty net cord sensor and had to save a pair of match points before eventually coming out on top in a see-saw battle.

"I just remember, down that end, when I was a couple of match points down, I don't know what was going on," Kyrgios - who dropped to his knees after sealing victory - said in his on-court interview.

"If you were inside my head, there were some dark thoughts in there. But I live to fight another day and hopefully I can continue to play good tennis in front of you guys."

His reward is a clash with Thiem, the third seed having dismissed the challenge of German Dominik Koepfer in straight sets as he dropped just six games.


STAN-D AND DELIVER

Wawrinka appeared on course to survive a serious scare when he rallied from two sets down against Marton Fucsovics, but the Swiss was unable to seize on the chances that came his way in a tense tie-break. 

Fucsovics had needed over four hours to overcome wild card Marc Polmans in the previous round and, once again, found a way to get over the finishing line at the end of a Melbourne marathon. 

The Hungarian trailed 6-1 during the decisive breaker, yet hit back to stun the 17th seed 7-5 6-1 4-6 2-6 7-6 (11-9). For Wawrinka, there was frustration at the missed opportunities, albeit he also praised his conqueror. 
  
"From 6-1 up, I started to hesitate a little bit in the way I was playing," he said. "I wanted to put the ball maybe too much in and I [was] not going completely for my shots and that's when I started to miss a little bit and it helped him to come back in the match.  

"He was fighting well, he's a tough player, he's a good player and he deserved to win." 

The war of words between Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios continued on day one of the Australian Open, while Gael Monfils was reduced to tears after a first-round exit.

Reigning champion Djokovic cruised past Jeremy Chardy 6-3 6-1 6-2 in just over an hour and a half but was unwilling to be drawn on comments made by Kyrgios following the home favourite's 6-4 6-4 6-4 success against Frederico Ferreira Silva.

Djokovic, who has now won 15 straight Australian Open matches, will take on Frances Tiafoe next and Kyrgios has a meeting with Ugo Humbert. A potential crossing of their paths on court could not happen until the semi-finals.

Monfils, seeded 10th at Melbourne Park, could not hide his emotions after succumbing to a 3-6 6-4 7-5 3-6 6-3 defeat in a five-set thriller against Emil Ruusuvuori.

Benoit Paire was the only other seed to go out on day one, with Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, Diego Schwartzman and Stan Wawrinka picking up victories.

 

"HE'S A STRANGE CAT"

On the eve of the first grand slam of the year Djokovic said he had "no respect" for Kyrgios off the court, which the Australian was confused by as he pointed out the charitable work he has done during the coronavirus pandemic.

Kyrgios was previously critical of the Adria Tour organised by Djokovic last year, which ended with multiple players testing positive for COVID-19.

Asked about the Serbian's pre-tournament comment, Kyrgios said: "It actually would make complete sense to me if he was like, 'Look, I don't respect the guy on the court.' Because I understand if he doesn't agree with some of my antics on the court that I have done in the past.

"He's a very strange cat, Novak is. Heck of a tennis player, but unfortunately someone that's partying with his shirt off during a global pandemic, I don't know if I can take any slack from that man. That's as bad as it gets for me."

When a reporter asked if they could read those comments out to Djokovic in his post-match news conference, the 17-time major champion replied: "You can read it, but I'm not gonna answer to anything."

Upon hearing the remarks and being asked if he had a reply, Djokovic simply said: "No."

 

ANOTHER LOSS FOR MONFILS

Having lost his first-round match to Ruusuvuori, who incredibly saved 17 break points, Monfils remained without a win on the ATP Tour since February 2020.

The Frenchman was eliminated in the first round at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2006 and admitted he had lost all his self-belief and was finding it extremely difficult to get himself back on track.

"I don't have any confidence. I would like to get out of this nightmare but I can't," said Monfils.

"I don’t know when it's going to end. It's hard. Every time I get here I feel judged, I've lost again. I can't serve, I'm playing badly. I'm being honest and it's going to take time."

 

BEST OF THE REST

Thiem made light work of Mikhail Kukushkin 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 6-3 to set up a second-round meeting with Dominik Koepfer, but Zverev had to come from a set down to beat Marcos Giron 6-7 (8-10), 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 6-2. He will face Maxime Cressy next.

Denis Shapovalov also had to fight back to defeat Jannik Sinner, who reached the French Open quarter-finals last year, in an entertaining five-setter on Margaret Court Arena.

Marin Cilic, the runner-up at Melbourne Park in 2018, went down 6-4 6-2 7-6 (7-5) to Grigor Dimitrov, while Pablo Carreno Busta overcame Kei Nishikori 7-5 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.

There were straight-set wins for Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Felix Auger-Aliassime against Paulo Sousa, Federico Coria and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe respectively, and Schwartzman defeated Elias Ymer 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 2-6 6-2.

Andrey Rublev's quest for a third title since the US Open began in solid fashion as he comfortably saw off Norbert Gombos in straight sets on day one of the star-studded Vienna Open.

Fifth-seed Rublev, victorious in Hamburg and St Petersburg in recent weeks, was the highest-ranked player in action on Monday and never looked in any danger of being on the wrong end of an upset, coming through 6-3 6-2.

He broke Gombos in the second game of the match and did not have to save any break points in return across the entire contest.

Gombos dropped his serve again early in the second and that effectively doomed him, as Rublev – who is closing in one of the last two spots at the ATP Finals – cruised to victory. Casper Ruud or Jannik Sinner await in the last 16.

Gael Monfils' hopes of reaching the season-ending tournament took a hit, however, as injury forced him to bow out while 6-1 2-0 down to Pablo Carreno-Busta, who is also in with an outside chance of qualifying.

Eighth-seed Denis Shapovalov crashed out 6-4 7-5 to wildcard Jurij Rodionov, while Borna Coric beat Taylor Fritz 6-4 6-4. He will face either world number one Novak Djokovic or Filip Krajinovic.

Among the other big names competing in Austria are Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem.

Diego Schwartzman eased to a straight-sets win over home hope Oscar Otte but there was a shock in store for Denis Shapovalov at the Cologne Championships.

Second seed Schwartzman, ranked ninth in the world, needed just 81 minutes to seal a 6-3 6-2 victory, setting up a third-round meeting with Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

It was a less happy outing for third seed Shapovalov in Germany, the Canadian succumbing to a 6-1 4-6 6-2 loss against Gilles Simon.

The result represented a measure of revenge for Simon after the Frenchman lost to world number 12 Shapovalov in the first round of the French Open.

"I am really happy with the way I played, with the focus I had over all of the match," Simon said in his on-court interview. 

"I am really happy to beat him, because it is a very, very good win. I had a tough match with him at Roland Garros. I lost it unfortunately, so I am happy that I am the winner this time."

Jannik Sinner awaits for Simon after he defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert, while Yoshihito Nishioka also made it through.

At the European Open in Antwerp, top seed and home favourite David Goffin suffered a stunning 6-3 7-5 defeat to American qualifier Marcos Giron.

Giron's surprise victory put him in the last eight of a ATP Tour event for the first time and he saved 10 of 13 break points he faced for a maiden victory over a top-20 opponent.

Milos Raonic was not to be denied a place in the quarter-finals, though, and a 7-5 7-6 (7-4) defeat of Cameron Norrie means he will now meet Grigor Dimitrov.

ATP Finals hopefuls Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov will meet in the semi-finals of the St Petersburg Open after claiming straight-sets victories on Friday. 

Rublev holds the final automatic qualification spot for the season-ending tournament in London next month following a 6-2 6-1 win over Cameron Norrie. 

The third seed was a cut above Brit Norrie, improving his record to 32 victories and just seven defeats this year, which has included three titles. 

Shapovalov, meanwhile, beat Stan Wawrinka 6-4 7-5 in a battle between youth and experience, the 21-year-old Canadian winning 84 per cent of his first-service points. 

Milos Raonic defeated fellow seed Karen Khachanov 6-1 7-6 (7-1) and will face Borna Coric in the other semi-final, the Croatian having ousted Reilly Opelka in straight sets.

Top seed Alexander Zverev moved into the last four of the Cologne Indoors on home soil, beating South African qualifier Lloyd Harris 6-4 3-6 6-0. 

Zverev will come up against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in his third semi-final of the year after the unseeded Spaniard got past Dennis Novak 6-3 2-6 6-3. 

Roberto Bautista Agut and Felix Auger-Aliassime will do battle for a place in the final following wins over Hubert Hurkacz and Radu Albot respectively. 

Marco Cecchinato and Lorenzo Musetti will be hoping to contest an all-Italian Sardegna Open in their homeland after advancing to the last four on Friday, along with Serbian duo Laslo Djere and Danilo Petrovic.

 

Novak Djokovic set his sights on French Open glory after thrashing Mikael Ymer in the first round on Tuesday.

The Serbian, seeking to put his US Open disqualification firmly behind him, made an early statement of intent with a 6-0 6-2 6-3 victory on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

It took Djokovic one hour, 38 minutes to get the job done, with Ricardas Berankis awaiting in the second round.

And the world number one is determined to chase down a second crown at Roland Garros, having triumphed in 2016.

"I'm ready physically, mentally, emotionally to go deep in the tournament," said Djokovic.

"Hopefully I can have another successful year here in Paris. 2016 was a dream come true.

"Obviously the only French Open title I have won in my career, and it was a very long anticipated title."

 

TSITSIPAS AND RUBLEV, UNITED AGAIN BY FIVE-SETTERS

Two days after they went head to head in the Hamburg European Open final, Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas were back in action in Paris.

And both at one stage looked in serious danger of first-round exits, with their efforts of the past week in Germany seemingly catching up on the seeded pair.

Rublev, who got the better of Tsitsipas in Hamburg, trailed Sam Querrey by two sets on Tuesday. Tsitsipas also slumped two sets behind in his clash with Spain's Jaume Munar.

But both staged spectacular fightbacks, with Russian 13th seed Rublev edging out American Querrey 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-4 6-3 and Greek fifth seed Tsitsipas prevailing 4-6 2-6 6-1 6-4 6-4.

"Although I started well, I was kind of switched off again later during the first set," Tsitsipas said. "Whatever I was trying to do, most of my shots were landing out and nothing was going my way.

"It was crazy what was happening out there, and I couldn't find any solutions. I feel like I was just turning down the hill, and I'm happy that I took my time.

"I started thinking a little bit more. Started figuring out why I was rushing so much and why I was going for extreme things. After a bit of processing and thinking, I think that helped settle things down and have a fresh new start of the match."

Rublev accepted his display against Querrey was dismal, saying: "I was feeling completely tight. I choke another level. From the first point of the match till the last match of the match I was completely frozen. I couldn't do one step, I could only hit, I was tight like I don't know."

 

BERRETTINI FEELING OLD...AT 24!

Matteo Berrettini breezed past Vasek Pospisil 6-3 6-1 6-3 before railing against the relentless march of time.

At just 24, the Italian is already feeling like a veteran after seeing the impressive exploits of compatriots Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Musetti, who are both teenagers.

"Now it's crazy. Until last year I was the young one," exclaimed Berrettini, who faces Lloyd Harris in round two.

"Now these two are with big steps stepping in. I mean, my career is completely different compared to theirs. They started really young.

"This is my third Roland Garros, and I'm 24. Probably them at 24, they would have played already maybe six Roland Garros. It's definitely different."

 

GASQUET AND SIMON LEAD FRENCH CASUALTIES

Canadian ninth seed Denis Shapovalov was tested by experienced Frenchman Gilles Simon but won through 6-2 7-5 5-7 6-3, while 18th-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov drubbed another Frenchman in Gregoire Barrere, landing a 6-3 6-2 6-2 win.

Roberto Bautista Agut added to the French misery, sinking fellow veteran Richard Gasquet 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 6-1, and lesser-known players also exited their home grand slam as Ugo Humbert, Quentin Halys and Harold Mayot also bowed out.

Rafael Nadal suffered a stunning defeat to Diego Schwartzman in the Internazionali d'Italia quarter-finals - a major blow to French Open preparations for tennis' king of clay. 

A 6-2 7-5 loss to Schwartzman in Rome ended Nadal's 100 per cent record in their rivalry, after nine previous wins for the Spaniard. 

In their fifth clash on clay, and first on the surface since Nadal won in four sets in the 2018 Roland Garros quarter-finals, Schwartzman wobbled with victory in sight. 

At 5-4 ahead in the second set he was broken to love by 12-time French Open winner Nadal. 

But the eighth seed magnificently broke back immediately and then held his nerve to complete a memorable success, finishing with a volley at the net out of the reach of the stranded Nadal.

The result ends the prospect of a final between Nadal and top seed Djokovic on Monday, with Schwartzman moving on to tackle Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the last four of the tournament. 

"Today I played my best tennis. [It was] Very similar to Roland Garros against Rafa three years ago and I'm very happy," Schwartzman said in his post-match interview on court.

"I was not thinking to beat him really because I was not playing good lately. But today I did my best and I'm very happy."

There were clear mitigating circumstances behind Nadal's unusually early exit, given this is his first tournament since February. 

The 34-year-old elected to miss the resumption of tennis in the United States last month, skipping the US Open over concerns about long-haul international travel in the coronavirus period.

Shapovalov was a 6-2 3-6 6-2 winner against Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov earlier on Saturday.

Dusan Lajovic set up a meeting with Rafael Nadal as a host of seeds and big names fell by the wayside at the Internazionali d'Italia on Thursday.

Neither Novak Djokovic nor Nadal was in action after scoring victories a day earlier, but there was no shortage of shocks.

Home hopeful and seventh seed Fabio Fognini was among those to lose, going down 7-5 7-6 (7-4) to Ugo Humbert.

The match saw a remarkable 11 breaks of serve, including the first six games of the opener before Fognini was broken to love, then losing an early advantage in the second-set tie-break.

He was joined in making an early exit by US Open quarter-finalist Andrey Rublev.

Beaten by brilliant Russian compatriot Daniil Medvedev in the last eight at Flushing Meadows, Rublev lost in three sets to Hubert Hurkacz on this occasion.

Fifth seed Gael Monfils succumbed 6-2 6-4 to qualifier Dominik Koepfer, while Milos Raonic fell to Lajovic as the Serbian secured the Nadal clash, landing a 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-2 success.

Kei Nishikori also tumbled out as he struggles to regain his rhythm on the ATP Tour.

The former world number four was appearing in just his second tournament of the year due to an elbow injury and then the coronavirus pandemic but could not get past Lorenzo Musetti.

Musetti, an 18-year-old qualifier, had already dumped out Stan Wawrinka and said after his 6-3 6-4 success: "I think I played really smart. It was different to Wawrinka.

"They are great champions and I am really happy right now."

He was the only Italian man to win, though, with Casper Ruud seeing off Lorenzo Sonego.

Denis Shapovalov had a straightforward victory and Diego Schwartzman also headed through in two sets.

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