Rafael Nadal believes his ability to handle pressure was key to a record-extending 10th Internazionali d'Italia win on Sunday.

Nadal overcame Novak Djokovic 7-5 1-6 6-3 to seal his first Masters 1000 triumph of the year, while improving to 4-2 in the finals he has played against the Serbian at the Foro Italico venue in Rome.

Victory also gave Nadal a 36th Masters 1000 crown, moving him level with Djokovic's all-time record since the series was established in 1990.

The 34-year-old king of clay-court tennis was delighted to get his hands on the trophy for a 10th time and said there has been no let-up in his motivation to succeed.

"It's amazing to have the trophy with me again, one more time here in Rome," Nadal said.

"I really wanted this 10th here in Rome. After achieving 10 at Roland Garros, 10 in Monte Carlo, 10 in Barcelona, I really wanted this one. It's a super important tournament for me.

"I went through a lot of things during the week. Some positive, some great moments, some lucky moments, suffering moments. At the end I think I played a very solid week of tennis. It's the right moment to win an important title."

Nadal added, quoted on the ATP website: "I don't put extra pressure on myself at all. I want to win every day and every tournament that I play. But the passion and the motivation to try is always the same. I know how to handle the pressure."

Nadal plans to rest for a few days before making minor tweaks to his game ahead of a tilt at a record-breaking 21st grand slam title at the French Open, which starts on May 30.

"I'll take a couple of days off and then start working," Nadal added. "I think I can work on a couple of things that I can do a little bit better. I think I have been improving this week, but I need to keep going with those improvements, because when you improve, you're able to do it every day for a longer time.

"I just need to keep going. I know what I need to work on over the next couple of weeks, and I'm going to do it. Work, relax mentally, and work the right way."

Djokovic spent almost five hours on court on Saturday in his rain-delayed quarter-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas and subsequent semi-final triumph over Lorenzo Sonego.

However, he insisted fatigue was not behind his defeat.

"Not at all, I did not feel any fatigue," Djokovic said. "He managed to break my serve and played better, that's it.

"Until the last shot it was quite close. I had my shot to win it, but it wasn't meant to be. I didn't feel fatigue. Actually, I was very happy with the way I felt on the court. I could have gone for another few hours.

"I could have easily gone out of this tournament in the quarters. I'm very pleased with my fighting spirit. The level of tennis was higher and higher, actually.

"Yesterday I played great. Today I thought I also played at a high level. Unfortunately the decisive moments in the first and third sets just went his way. It was a bit unfortunate."

Rafael Nadal sealed a record-extending 10th Rome Masters title with a 7-5 1-6 6-3 win over Novak Djokovic at the Internazionali d'Italia.

It marked a first Masters 1000 triumph of the year for Nadal, who improved to 4-2 in the finals he has played against Djokovic at the Foro Italico venue.

Victory also secured Nadal a 36th Masters 1000 crown, moving him level with Djokovic's all-time record since the series was established in 1990.

Djokovic spent almost five hours on court on Saturday in his rain-delayed quarter-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas and subsequent semi-final triumph over Lorenzo Sonego, but he showed no signs of fatigue in the opening stages in Rome.

The Serbian broke in Nadal's first service game to go 2-0 up, although Spaniard Nadal hit back in the next game before levelling matters at 2-2.

Nadal then broke again, taking advantage of an unconvincing service game from Djokovic at 5-5 on his way to sealing the opening set in one hour and 15 minutes.

Djokovic survived a break point at 1-1 in the second set, before breaking Nadal in the next game to move 3-1 ahead.

The Serbian reeled off five games in a row in all, setting up set point with his fifth ace of the match. He forced a backhand error from Nadal to take the second set in 43 minutes.

Nadal saved two break points at 2-2 in the final set, which provided him with the confidence to break to love and open up a 4-2 lead.

He sealed victory in two hours and 50 minutes, converting his second championship point when Djokovic sent a backhand long.

Iga Swiatek sealed a place in the world's top 10 in style on Sunday, thrashing Karolina Pliskova without dropping a game in a stunning Internazionali BNL d'Italia final.

The reigning French Open champion was in ruthless form in the showpiece match, dismantling the ninth seed 6-0 6-0 in just 46 minutes on the Rome clay.

Pliskova simply had no answer as she suffered the first double-bagel loss in a WTA final since 2016, back when Anastasija Sevastova was on the receiving end against Simona Halep in Bucharest.

Swiatek showed no mercy to her opponent, losing just 13 points during a lopsided contest. She did face two break points in the third game of the second set, but quickly recovered to hold serve.

The victory secures a third career title for the teenager from Poland, who also triumphed in Adelaide earlier this year.

"I'm really really happy. I'm kind of overwhelmed because at the beginning of this tournament I wouldn't even dream of winning," Swiatek said in her on-court interview.

"It was super tough. We had to fight a lot of stuff.

"Obviously Karolina had a great run here and in previous years she's showing she's a really consistent player."

The new champion had needed to play twice on Saturday due to rain delays during the tournament, overcoming both Elina Svitolina and Coco Gauff in straight sets to progress to the final.

Those results came after a last-16 scare against Barbora Krejcikova, Swiatek twice having to save match points before eventually prevailing in a deciding set.

"I'm really happy we've been able to play with fans because you gave me a lot," Swiatek, who is certain to be inside the top 10 when the updated rankings are released on Monday, said.

"Everything happened during this week. I've been playing two matches in a day, saving set points, saving match points, and you [the crowd] helped me a lot because it's tough.

"I want to thank people that are not here, my family and my cat, I am always thinking about her."

Novak Djokovic dug deep in the face of fierce Roman resistance to set up a showdown with Rafael Nadal in the men's final at the Internazionali d'Italia.

World number one Djokovic came from a set down overnight to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 4-6 7-5 7-5 early on Saturday, before returning to the court to face Italian Lorenzo Sonego in the evening.

The Rome crowd raucously rallied behind Sonego, who beat Andrey Rublev earlier in the day, and the 26-year-old rose to the challenge but eventually fell to a 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 defeat.

Djokovic had match points before serving for it at 6-5 in the second set, yet it was to prove a stirring game as the noisy home crowd encouraged Sonego, who snatched a gutsy break. The tie-break looked set to be wholly one-sided when Djokovic raced 3-0 ahead, but it was soon back on serve, partisan spectators at the Foro Italico roaring in delight at a double fault from the Serbian.

From 4-2 behind, Sonego surged to 6-4 ahead in the tie-break. He failed to convert a first set point when ripping a forehand into the net, but the set was his when Djokovic sent a backhand service return long.

Sonego then had 0-40 against the Djokovic serve at the start of the decider, but he could not force the break, and the top seed gained strength from that escape, eventually cruising to victory.

Five-time Rome champion Djokovic said on Amazon Prime: "I bounced back very well after the second set. Maybe if he started with a break up in the third, things would look differently. I also had my chances and I only had myself to blame for not closing the match in straight sets.

"But he's a quality player, very dynamic, it's not easy to play against him and obviously he had the crowd behind him. It was an electric atmosphere. In the end I managed to close out the match really well."

Looking ahead to tackling Nadal, Djokovic said: "I need to recover. Hopefully I'll have fresh legs because that's what I definitely will need and it's necessary to have a chance against Rafa. He also had some tough matches [this week] and hopefully I'll be fresh and I'll give it all."

While Djokovic and Sonego thrashed away into the night, nine-time champion Nadal had no such workload issues on Saturday.

Nadal beat Alexander Zverev on Friday to set up a semi-final against American Reilly Opelka, and the Spaniard snatched a 6-4 6-4 win from that contest to reach the title match.

Novak Djokovic had to battle back more than once before eventually getting the better of Stefanos Tsitsipas in Rome, keeping alive his hopes of a sixth Internazionali BNL d'Italia title.

The reigning champion was in trouble when play was halted in the quarter-final clash on Friday, trailing by a set and a break before persistent rain forced an early end to proceedings.

However, Djokovic was able to get back on level terms before the duo played out a see-saw deciding set that twice saw Tsitsipas hold control.

The sixth seed – seeking a first win over the world number one on clay at the third attempt – even had the chance to serve out for the match when 5-4 ahead, only to falter with the finishing line in sight.

Djokovic instead claimed three games in a row to finally prevail after three hours and 16 minutes on court. He has little time to recover, though, as his semi-final match is scheduled for later on Saturday.

Next up will be Italian Lorenzo Sonego, the home favourite having produced a comeback of his own to see off Andrey Rublev 3-6 6-4 6-3 in another contest held over from Friday.

Djokovic will hope for a more straightforward encounter after being pushed all the way by Tsitsipas, who will rue his missed chances.

The Greek led 2-1 in the final set after clinching a break that led to his opponent throwing his racket in frustration, earning him a code violation.

He had openings to extend that advantage in the fifth game before losing his serve in the eighth, only to quickly forge his way back in front to move to the brink.

Yet a gripping set of tennis that saw a combined total of 16 break-point opportunities somehow went Djokovic's way, a memorable victory wrapped up when Tsitsipas slashed a tired-looking backhand wide.

Novak Djokovic's Internazionali BNL d'Italia quarter-final with Stefanos Tsitsipas was halted by persistent rain on Friday with the world number one a set and a game down.

Reigning champion Djokovic, who is seeking a sixth triumph in Rome, struggled to get going against Tsitsipas and trails 6-4 2-1 ahead of the scheduled resumption of play on Saturday.

The top seed lost serve in the first game and continued to make some uncharacteristic errors that saw him trail 4-1 at one point.

While Djokovic did earn a first break in the sixth game, Tsitsipas stood firm to take the opening set and was in total control when again breaking his opponent early in the next set.

However, soon after the Greek had opened up a 2-1 advantage, the worsening conditions led to a pause in proceedings and organisers were eventually forced to bring the day's play to an end.

Djokovic, who converted just one of his six break point opportunities, will return to the court on Saturday and will need to improve if he is to join Rafael Nadal in the final four.

Nadal exacted some revenge on Alexander Zverev earlier on Friday to reach the semi-finals for a 12th time.

The Spaniard lost to Zverev at the same stage of the Madrid Open seven days ago but responded to questions over his form by easing through this latest encounter.

Nadal, who saved two match points before beating Denis Shapovalov on Thursday, raced 4-0 ahead in the first set against Zverev and had little trouble seeing the job through.

Aiming for a record-extending 10th title in the Italian capital, Nadal saved all eight break points he faced in the second set to advance 6-3 6-4 in two hours.

"I played more solid than Madrid. Conditions are different," he said in his post-match interview. "Here the conditions are a little more normal. I was able to control a little bit more."

"I'm happy. I played a very solid match with not many mistakes, playing the way that I have to. It's an important victory for me against a great player."

Nadal will face Reilly Opelka for a place in the final, the American beating qualifier Federico Delbonis 7-5 7-6 (7-2) to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final.

Opelka entered the tournament on a six-game losing streak, but he kept his good run going in Rome by earning the only break of the opening set in the 12th game.

Both players held throughout the second set and it was big-serving Opelka who prevailed 7-2 in the tie-break.

The day's other quarter-final between Lorenzo Sonego and Andrey Rublev also fell victim to the bad weather and will get under way on Saturday.

Ash Barty dramatically abandoned her Internazionali d'Italia quarter-final against Coco Gauff on Friday due to a right arm injury.

The world number one was leading 6-4 2-1 in Rome when, with her left thigh also heavily strapped, she pulled out of the match following talks with a trainer.

Barty's decision was precautionary as she will begin her French Open campaign in a little over two weeks' time, bidding to regain the title she won two years ago.

The scare came just hours after world number three Simona Halep announced she tore a calf muscle this week, putting the Romanian's Roland Garros prospects in some doubt.

Providing an update after the match with Gauff, which was interrupted by a rain delay, Australian Barty said: "The pain was becoming too severe so it was important to listen to my body and do the right thing knowing we have a slam."

Gauff, who had hit 12 winners to 15 unforced errors prior to her opponent's withdrawal, will now compete in her first career WTA 1000 semi-final.

Karolina Pliskova remained on course for a second Rome triumph in three years, after saving three match points to edge out Jelena Ostapenko.

The 2019 champion, who also finished runner-up last year, was 5-4 down in the final set when digging deep to hold off her 49th-ranked opponent.

The thrilling match went to a tie-break and Pliskova reeled off seven straight points after losing the opener to advance 4-6 7-5 7-6 (7-1).

"I'm just proud of how I fought," Pliskova said at her post-match news conference. "I'm happy that I stayed in there and fought until the end.

"We played last month, so I knew what was going to be happening. You can never get ready for some of the balls which she's playing."

Petra Martic stands between Pliskova and a place in the final for the third year running after the Croatian defeated Jessica Pegula 7-5 6-4.

Pegula eliminated Naomi Osaka earlier in the week but was second best against Martic, who progressed in one hour and 40 minutes.

Martic trailed 2-0 in the opening set before twice breaking Pegula to move 3-2 in front, but her opponent hit back to make it 5-5 in a tight contest.

However, Martic managed to break in the 11th game and served out the set, before showing her steeliness in the second to remain on course for a maiden WTA 1000 crown.  

Simona Halep revealed her Rome withdrawal this week was caused by a torn calf muscle, a blow that casts doubt on her prospects of playing the French Open.

Former world number one Halep had to be helped off court by coach Darren Cahill after she was injured while leading Angelique Kerber 6-1 3-3 in the second round of the Internazionali d'Italia on Wednesday.

The two-time grand slam champion on Friday announced the extent of her injury. Her misfortune comes with just over two weeks remaining until the clay-court grand slam at Roland Garros gets under way on May 30.

Wimbledon is the next major on the calendar after the Paris slam, with the All England Club tournament scheduled to start on June 28 in London.

"After an MRI here in Rome I can confirm that I have small tear high up in the left calf," Romanian Halep posted on her social media accounts.

"I will fly home today and begin recovery in the pool and gym on Monday.

"I'm staying positive and will do everything i can to speed up my return."

Halep, now 29 years old, won her first major title in Paris three years ago and went on to be crowned Wimbledon champion in 2019.

Ash Barty will meet Coco Gauff in the quarter-finals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia after an impressive defeat of Veronika Kudermetova.

The world number one claimed her 27th Tour-level win of this year, seeing off Kudermetova 6-3 6-3 in 81 minutes to reach the last eight in Rome for the first time.

Barty admitted it took some time to get used to the "wow factor" of centre court in the Italian capital, but she rarely looked under threat as she moved to 13-2 on clay in 2021.

The Australian would have faced Aryna Sabalenka for the third tournament in a row had it not been for a sterling performance from Gauff, who won 7-5 6-3 to secure a fourth quarter-final this year.

"Coco has shown that she loves to bring her best tennis against the players that challenge her the most," said Barty, who has never played against the American teenager. "She's played an exceptional tournament thus far. She's got the ability to take the game on. She's aggressive, she can run, she can trust her legs.

"I think it's going to be important for me to try to get the match back on my terms as often as possible. I know when they're in her patterns, the way she likes to play, she's extremely dangerous and very good at what she does. I think it's going to be a new challenge, a clean slate for both of us."

Matters were more difficult for reigning French Open champion Iga Swiatek, who saved two match points before beating Barbora Krejcikova 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 in a contest lasting nearly three hours.

Powerful serving from Krejcikova and some errant shots from Swiatek gifted the Czech the chance to serve out a straight-sets win, but Swiatek held firm before taking the tie-break.

Swiatek persisted with a drop shot that seemed to cause difficulties for her and her opponent before Krejcikova's aim went awry at the end of the decider.

"I had fun when I played drop shots because today I felt them really good," said Swiatek, who will now face fifth seed Elina Svitolina after her 6-4 6-2 beating of Garbine Muguruza.

"I asked myself a question, what would annoy me in that situation? So, I tried to do that. So, yeah, sometimes it didn't look pretty, but I'm happy that I could do that. One year ago I wouldn't even come up with a solution like that. That's a progress."

Jessica Pegula followed up her shock win over Naomi Osaka by defeating Ekaterina Alexandrova in straight sets. She will now face Petra Martic, who came from a set down to defeat world number 44 Nadia Podoroska – conqueror of Serena Williams on Wednesday.

Ninth seed Karolina Pliskova, who beat Vera Zvonareva 7-5 6-3, will face Jelena Ostapenko following her three-set defeat of Angelique Kerber.

Rafael Nadal defeated home favourite Jannik Sinner at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, but Daniil Medvedev crashed out of the competition on Wednesday.

Rising star Sinner gave Nadal a stern test, but the veteran emerged triumphant with a 7-5 6-4 triumph in two hours and 12 minutes.

Nadal will face Denis Shapovalov – who also beat an Italian in the shape of Stefano Travaglia – in the last 16.

The hard-fought victory is a welcome one for Nadal after he lost to Alexander Zverev in the Madrid Open quarter-finals last time out.

However, there was a big star who fell with world number two Medvedev, who continues to struggle on clay, eliminated by his compatriot Aslan Karatsev.

Karatsev impressively triumphed 6-2 6-4 in 78 minutes, winning 26 of his 29 first-serve points and not being broken in the match.

"I'm super happy," said Karatsev, who also beat world number one Novak Djokovic last month and will face Reilly Opelka next. 

"It was a really tough match. Against Medvedev you never know, he's a big server. It's tough to return, but I managed it well."

Dominic Thiem almost went the same way as Medvedev, coming within two points of going out in his first match in Rome, which has also happened in his previous two appearances.

However, the Austrian battled back to defeat Marton Fucsovics 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-0 in a match lasting two hours and 33 minutes, booking a last-16 clash with Lorenzo Sonego.

"It was such a close match, especially in the second set,” said Thiem, a semi-finalist in Madrid last week.

"I knew he'd be a super-tough opponent, particularly coming from different conditions in Madrid. I was fighting all the match and stayed in there. 

"At the end, I got the reward for fighting. I had difficulties with my timing and my serve. 

"I have to hurt my opponent more with my shots. I still won a great match and I will try to improve."

There were smoother victories for Madrid champion Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Zverev cruised past qualifier Hugo Dellien in a 6-2 6-2 success, while Tsitsipas saw off Marin Cilic 7-5 6-2.

Andrey Rublev defeated Jan-Lennard Struff in three sets, while Matteo Berrettini also progressed, beating John Millman in straight sets to book a clash with Tsitsipas which looks like the pick of the last-16 draw.

Simona Halep suffered a worrying leg injury just over two weeks out from the French Open at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, where Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka crashed out.

Halep, the 2018 French Open champion, had dominated the first set against Angelique Kerber, winning 6-1, but came off the court with an apparent calf problem with the scores level at 3-3 in the second.

She received treatment but an emotional Halep was forced to withdraw from the clash, the defending champion handing victory to Kerber.

The Romanian was then helped from the grandstand court, leaving the area with strapping on her leg and a heavy limp, raising doubts about her ability to compete at Roland Garros, where she would likely be one of the favourites.

Earlier Williams made her first appearance on the tour since February, losing the 1,000th match of her glittering career to Nadia Podoroska, who reached the semi-finals in Paris last year.

Podoroska prevailed 7-6 (8-6) 7-5, with 23-time grand slam champion Williams not too downhearted by a defeat to an accomplished clay-court player.

"It's tough to have a first match on clay. It was definitely kind of good to go the distance and to try to be out there, but clearly I can do legions better," Williams said. 

"She has a good game, for sure, obviously. She's very consistent. Overall, it was good for me to play such a clay-court player on clay today, but it's a little frustrating. But it's all right. It is what it is.

"I have been training for months, but it feels definitely different on clay to make that last adjustment. Just filling out the game, finding the rhythm. Even sliding and confidence with that, with movement. That's always like a little struggle in the first two matches, and then I'm raring to go."

Osaka has yet to find her footing on clay and the reigning Australian Open champion came up short in the second round as she suffered a surprise loss to Jessica Pegula.

Pegula said after her 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 win: "I know she doesn't love clay, so I just tried to be the clay court player out there today, and it worked just good enough."

World number one Ashleigh Barty had no such difficulties in her 6-4 6-1 over Yaroslava Shvedova, but fourth seed Sofia Kenin was a shock loser to Barbora Krejcikova.

Petra Kvitova was beaten in three sets by Vera Zvonareva but Madrid champion Aryna Sabalenka, last year's French Open champion Iga Swiatek, Elina Svitolina, Karolina Pliskova and Garbine Muguruza all progressed while teenager Coco Gauff knocked out 17th seed Maria Sakkari.

Serena Williams made an unsuccessful return to the WTA Tour as she joined Naomi Osaka in crashing out of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in the second round on Wednesday.

Williams was playing the 1,000th match of her glittering career against Nadia Podoroska, her first since losing in the Australian Open semi-finals to Osaka in February.

The American has experienced significant success in Rome, winning the title four times, but was always likely to be tested by a player who reached the French Open semi-finals last year.

And that proved the case as she slumped to a 7-6 (8-6) 7-5 defeat despite threatening a second set fightback.

Having won the first set on a tie-break, Podoroska continued to dominate the longer exchanges and went 5-2 up in the second.

From there, Williams won 12 straight points to level matters at 5-5, but Podoroska then claimed a nervy service hold to force the 23-time grand slam champion to serve to stay in the match.

She never came close to doing so as Williams was broken to love, a miscued forehand long giving Podoroska one of the biggest wins of her career.

Earlier in the day, Osaka was defeated in straight sets by Jessica Pegula.

Osaka has made no secret of her discomfort on clay, having never gone beyond the third round at Roland Garros.

All of her 10 WTA singles titles have come on the hard court and she was undone on the red dirt once more as Pegula prevailed 7-6 (7-2) 6-2.

 

Novak Djokovic returned following a rain delay to beat Taylor Fritz in the second round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia after Felix Auger-Aliassime dumped Diego Schwartzman out.

Djokovic, playing his first match since a shock loss to Aslan Karatsev in the semi-finals of the Serbia Open on home soil, dispatched American Fritz 6-3 7-6 (7-5) on Tuesday.

The world number one, who missed the Madrid Open, won the first three games of the match and saved both break points he faced in the opening set.

Fritz had broken for a second time in the second set to level at 5-5 when the rain came at the Foro Italico, but the top seed was able to come back out on court to finish off the job and will face Cameron Norrie or Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the third round.

Auger-Aliassime secured the third victory over a top-10 opponent in his fledgling career, beating eighth seed Schwartzman 6-1 6-3 to move into round three.

The 20-year-old Canadian only needed 64 minutes to send the Argentine packing, converting five of the six break-point opportunities he earned.

Matteo Berrettini saw off Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6 6-2 6-4 in the first round less than 48 hours after the Italian was beaten by Alexander Zverev in the Madrid Open final.

Gael Monfils was unable to win his first match since the Australian Open, as Lorenzo Sonego got the better of the fit-again Frenchman, who had been sidelined with a calf injury, 6-4 5-7 6-4.

Reilly Opelka moved into the last 16 with a 6-4 6-4 defeat of Lorenzo Musetti, while Pablo Carreno Busta's withdrawal due to lower back pain handed Kei Nishikori a walkover.

Daniil Medvedev and David Goffin were unable to start their second-round matches due to the weather in Rome.

Garbine Muguruza eased into the second round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Tuesday thanks to a comfortable victory over lucky loser Patricia Maria Tig, though Belinda Bencic was the biggest casualty on a rain-interrupted day.

Spaniard Muguruza was due to face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova until the Russian withdrew due to an abdominal issue, giving Tig a reprieve and the chance of an upset.

But Muguruza won all but three games in a comprehensive 6-1 6-2 victory that required little more than an hour on court as the former world number one went to 22-6 for the season.

Conditions were not great as drizzle persisted for much of the match, but Muguruza was grateful to progress after a generally testing day.

"It was a weird day," the 12th seed said afterwards. "I woke up [and the weather was] sunny, had an opponent. Then it turned out I had another opponent and it was raining the whole match. We had a little bit of everything!

"But, Rome, it's such a familiar tournament. I played here so many times, I've had nice matches. I love this clay, the red clay. It's familiar to me. I'm just looking forward to getting as many matches as possible."

Bencic will not be joining her in the next round, as she became the highest seed to be eliminated on the day in a 6-3 6-4 defeat to Kristina Mladenovic.

The two played each other under two weeks ago in the first round of the Madrid Open, with Bencic victorious, but Mladenovic got her revenge as she capitalised on her opponent's seven double faults.

Like Tig, Sloane Stephens was also competing as a lucky loser as she came up against compatriot Madison Keys, though the outcome was no different.

Keys claimed only her second win in six meetings with Stephens but had to come from behind as she eventually clinched it 4-6 6-2 7-5 after two-and-a-half hours on court to set up a clash with 15th seed Iga Swiatek.

Elise Mertens, the 14th seed, was also dumped out of the competition, losing out 4-6 6-2 6-3 to Veronika Kudermetova, whom she had beaten in straight sets in their three WTA Tour contests before this one.

Veteran Kazakh Yaroslava Shvedova, ranked 665 in the world, awaits top seed Ashleigh Barty after the 33-year-old showed character to fight back and beat Martina Trevisan 0-6 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (8-6), while Nadia Podoroska set up a second-round clash with Serena Williams after seeing off Laura Siegemund 2-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-1.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal learned their round of 32 opponents after Monday's action at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome.

Taylor Fritz will be hoping for a first win over world number one Djokovic at the fourth attempt after recovering from 1-3 down in the first set to defeat Monte Carlo semi-finalist Dan Evans 6-3 6-2.

"We played twice on clay in 2018, in Monte-Carlo and Madrid," the American said, having bounced back from two down to take Djokovic to five sets in this year's Australian Open.

"I got beaten pretty bad those two times. I feel better prepared to play him now, after the match in Australia."

Italian teenager Jannik Sinner continued his superb form to set up a meeting with Nadal, a nine-time winner in the Italian capital.

Sinner dispatched Ugo Humbert 6-2 6-4 in 90 minutes for his 20th win of the season and will now look to improve upon a straight-sets loss to Nadal at Roland Garros last October.

World number 27 Aslan Karatsev matched Sinner's 2021 haul by overcoming Miomir Kecmanovic 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 and is up next for Daniil Medvedev.

Marin Cilic will take on fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas after battling to a 4-6 6-2 6-3 triumph over Alexander Bublik, while Andrey Rublev and Dominic Thiem – also the beneficiaries of byes – will face Jan-Lennard Struff and Marton Fucsovics respectively after their straight-sets wins over lucky losers Aljaz Bedene and Yoshihito Nishioka.

The most notable casualty in Monday's round one action was Hubert Hurkacz who, who retired at 6-4 2-0 down to Italian wildcard Lorenzo Musetti.

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