Novak Djokovic returns to the grand slam arena, Carlos Alcaraz is threatening to follow in the footsteps of Rafael Nadal, and Iga Swiatek is suddenly unstoppable.

The French Open is rich in promise as the Roland Garros clay courts are swept in anticipation of the greats of tennis stepping out to begin their campaigns.

It has been the women's draw that has looked the most wide open in recent seasons, yet this year it is hard to look beyond Swiatek; however, the men's title battle promises to provide a sensational battle.

Here, Stats Perform assesses the contenders for the two main trophies: the Coupe des Mousquetaires and the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen.


KID INTERRUPTS G.O.A.T. RACE

Nadal took full advantage of Djokovic and Roger Federer being absent from the Australian Open, carrying off his 21st grand slam title to go top of the men's all-time list, one ahead of those two great rivals.

Federer is again missing, rehabbing after knee surgery, and the likelihood is he has played his final major already, but Djokovic is emphatically back. His confidence is surging once more, having taken a knock amid the drama of his deportation from Australia in January and being frozen out of the Indian Wells and Miami events due to the United States' COVID-19 rules.

A semi-final run in Madrid, where he lost a three-set monster to Alcaraz, was followed by Djokovic carrying off the Rome title for a sixth time when he saw off Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.

Djokovic turns 35 on Sunday, as main-draw action gets under way in Paris, but he is the defending champion and firmly believes he can succeed again.

Assessing his prospects for Paris, Djokovic said after his Rome triumph: "With rankings and the way I've been playing in the last few weeks, I would rate myself as one of the favourites. I don't obviously spend too much time thinking who's going to win it or who might have the best chance. I always think about myself.

"I go there with the highest ambitions. I really like my chances. Best-of-five, you play every second day. It's a grand slam. It's different. Really, the grand slams are played different. You have to approach it differently. But the way I've been feeling on the court and off the court in the last few weeks, I really think I can go far."

The chief threat to Djokovic could come not from 'King of Clay' Nadal, but from the 13-time champion's fellow Spaniard, 19-year-old Alcaraz.

Bidding to become the first teenage winner of the men's title since Nadal, also 19, triumphed for the first time in 2005, Alcaraz arrives in Paris with four titles already secured this year, including three on clay in Rio, Barcelona and Madrid. The other title came on hardcourt at the Masters 1000 event in Miami, and Alcaraz has rocketed from 32nd at the start of the year to number six in the world rankings.

Many expect his grand slam haul to reach double digits, just like the Big Three he has grown up watching and learning from. The first slam must come somewhere, and it might well come in Paris in a fortnight's time.

Don't discount Nadal, but his form has been a shade unconvincing since coming back from a rib injury, while Tsitsipas looks the next most likely after winning on clay in Monte Carlo and finishing runner-up to Djokovic in Rome. The Greek has unfinished business in Paris, after the heartache of losing last year's final from two sets up.

 

IGA TO PLEASE? POLE GOES FROM SHOCK WINNER TO FIRM FAVOURITE

The first thing to point out is that the French Open women's singles title has been won by eight different players in the last eight years.

Iga Swiatek was a surprise champion in 2020, at the tournament that was delayed until the Paris autumn due to the pandemic. She was ousted by Maria Sakkari in the quarter-finals last year but returns on a roll, having won an incredible five consecutive tournaments.

The 20-year-old has won 38 of the last 39 sets she has contested, the odd one out going against her on a tie-break, and her winning streak has reached 28 matches. Since Ash Barty retired, nobody has been able to lay much of a glove on Swiatek.

If she wins the French Open, that run will reach 35 matches, equalling the longest run in the 2000s, previously achieved by Venus Williams during a glory run that saw her win events including Wimbledon, the Olympic Games and US Open in the year 2000.

Tunisia's Ons Jabeur has been spoken of as a possible challenger to Swiatek, but she was swatted away 6-2 6-2 by the youngster in the Rome final last weekend.

So who challenges the favourite? Even those who have been there and done that struggle to look beyond Swiatek. According to Martina Navratilova: "You can’t be any hotter than she is right now."

Navratilova told the WTA website: "She looks pretty unbeatable on any surface, particularly the clay now."

The last player to beat Swiatek was Jelena Ostapenko, in Dubai. Ostapenko, a surprise 2017 French Open champion, had a sizzling spell of form in February but has gone off the boil since. It might take someone of her hard-hitting nature to knock Swiatek out of her stride, though, so if Ostapenko can navigate the early rounds she becomes a real contender. The Latvian's career record against Swiatek? An impressive 3-0.

Who else? Simona Halep's coaching tie-up with Patrick Mouratoglou – Serena Williams' former coach of long-standing – has raised eyebrows and now it might be time for it to raise her results level too. Halep has won in Paris before, in 2018, so don't count her out.

Aryna Sabalenka, Sakkari, Paula Badosa. Such players come into the mix if Swiatek slips up, but there has been scant sign of that happening.

Casper Ruud is one match away from successfully retaining his Geneva Open title, while Cameron Norrie has a shot at redemption in Lyon. 

World number nine Ruud was a 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 winner against Reilly Opelka on Friday, putting him on the brink of a second ATP Tour crown of the season and a sixth in his past seven ATP 250 events on clay. 

The Norwegian made the semi-finals at the Internazionali d'Italia last week and maintained his momentum ahead of the French Open. 

He converted the match's only breakpoint in the penultimate game and sealed the deal in the next, dropping just five of 46 points behind his first serve throughout.

Ruud will take on Joao Sousa – who was the runner-up to Thomaz Bellucci in Geneva seven years ago – in the final after the Portuguese defeated Richard Gasquet 6-2 6-2. 

Norrie will also be hopeful of making up for a past final defeat after winning his last-four encounter with Holger Rune at the Lyon Open. 

The Briton was a set and a break up before Rune recovered to force a decider, which Norrie took for a 6-2 5-7 6-4 triumph in a little over two hours.

Norrie was beaten by Stefanos Tsitsipas in last year's final but it is Alex Molcan who stands between him and the trophy this time around. 

Molcan, who is yet to win a Tour-level title, claimed an impressive victory 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 win over Alex de Minaur. 

No ranking points will be awarded at Wimbledon this year due to the ban on Russian and Belarusian players, the ATP confirmed on Friday. 

The All England Club announced the blanket ban last April following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In its statement, it said the championships had a responsibility to help "limit Russia's global influence through the strongest means possible". 

Russian and Belarusian players have been allowed to continue playing under a neutral flag, with the Tour saying Wimbledon's decision not to accept their entries was "unfair" and had "the potential to set a damaging precedent for the game". 

The governing body for men's tennis has now decided that no ranking points will be on offer at SW19 unless the All England Club lifts the ban. There was no concurrent announcement from the WTA.

A statement from the Tour read: "The ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination, is fundamental to our Tour. 

"The decision by Wimbledon to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the UK this summer undermines this principle and the integrity of the ATP ranking system. It is also inconsistent with our rankings agreement. 

"Absent a change in circumstances, it is with great regret and reluctance that we see no option but to remove ATP ranking points from Wimbledon for 2022. 

"Our rules and agreements exist in order to protect the rights of players as a whole. Unilateral decisions of this nature, if unaddressed, set a damaging precedent for the rest of the Tour. Discrimination by individual tournaments is simply not viable on a Tour that operates in more than 30 countries. 

"We greatly value our long-standing relationships with Wimbledon and the LTA [Lawn Tennis Association] and do not underestimate the difficult decisions faced in responding to recent UK government guidance. 

"However, we note that this was informal guidance, not a mandate, which offered an alternative option that would have left the decision in the hands of individual players competing as neutral athletes through a signed declaration. Our internal discussions with affected players in fact led us to conclude this would have been a more agreeable option for the Tour. 

"We remain hopeful of further discussions with Wimbledon leading to an acceptable outcome for all concerned. More broadly, we believe this matter again highlights the need for a united governance structure across professional tennis so that decisions of this nature can be made in a joint manner." 

The statement added: "Our condemnation of Russia's devastating invasion of Ukraine remains unequivocal. Immediate action was taken to suspend the ATP Tour event in Moscow and have Russian and Belarusian athletes compete under neutral flags on Tour. 

"In parallel, we have continued our humanitarian support for Ukraine, together with the other governing bodies of tennis, as well as providing direct financial assistance to many affected players." 

Roger Federer hopes to replicate fellow tennis great Rafael Nadal's "incredibly inspiring" recovery from injury when he makes his own comeback from knee surgery.

Nadal suffered from a recurring foot problem last season but returned to secure a record 21st grand slam title at the Australian Open in January, moving ahead of Federer and Novak Djokovic in the men's all-time list.

Federer has been out of action since losing in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last year, where he sustained another problem with his knee and subsequently underwent a third surgery in the space of 18 months.

The Swiss is yet to put a timeframe on his full ATP Tour return, although he is scheduled to play at the Laver Cup in September before playing the Swiss Indoors Basel event in his home city in October.

Federer, who turns 41 in August, referenced Nadal as he expressed his hopes to emulate the Spaniard's 20-match winning streak that he embarked on when returning from injury this season.

"It's incredibly inspiring when someone comes back from massive health problems," Federer told Caminada Magazin.

"Rafa and I talk on the phone from time to time, we talk a lot. I knew he wasn't doing great, but when he made it I was really happy for him. The effort is immense."

 

As for Federer's recovery, the world number 46 detailed the struggles he has to go through just to make it onto the court.

"As with a car, you have to turn a thousand screws until the engine runs smoothly," he added. "Today, mobilisation, stretching, and a warm-up in the morning take about 45 minutes. Then we drive to the plant. There follows a warm-up on the pitch, half an hour. 

"After that I eat, stretch, strengthen my ankles with tapes, then warm up again, do gymnastics and explosive speed exercises. Before I finally play, I took care of my body for two and a half hours.

"I don't post many pictures of the strenuous training because I was always convinced that it was a matter of course. Everyone trains hard. 

"I swore to myself that by the end of my career I wouldn't be completely broken. Later I would like to go skiing with the children and play football with my colleagues. That's why I'm doing rehab now – not just for tennis. Also for life after your career."

Asked when he will make his comeback, Federer added: "I can't even think that far. I'm waiting for the doctors' okay. I'm ready to give it my all again. 

"I feel like a racehorse scratching its stall and wanting to race. In the summer I hope to be able to hit the ground running. 

"I'm looking forward to coming home in the evening after the tough day of training and being completely exhausted."

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz are all on the same half of the draw at the French Open, while women's world number one Iga Swiatek will face a qualifier in the first round at Roland Garros.

Djokovic, who will make his Grand Slam return having missed the Australian Open, opens in Paris against Yoshihito Nishioka, while record 21-time grand slam winner Nadal meets Australia's Jordan Thompson.

The veteran pair of Djokovic and Nadal could challenge each other in the quarter-finals in the top half of the draw, where Alcaraz could come across world number three Alexander Zverev.

Alcaraz faces a qualifier in the first round and has won 16 of his last 17 matches, with the one blemish on his remarkable run coming against Sebastian Korda, who the Spaniard could meet in the third round.

Daniil Medvedev will have to get past Argentine Facundo Bagnis in the first round, while Lorenzo Musetti stands in the way of last year's runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Medvedev and Tsitsipas are joined in the wide-open bottom half of the draw by Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev, who meet home favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and South Korea's Soonwoo Kwon respectively.

In the women's draw, 2020 champion Swiatek comes in as favourite and will look to continue her 28-match winning streak when she faces a qualifier in the first round, as does US Open winner Emma Raducanu.

The Brit will then take on Aliaksandra Sasnovich or Wang Xinyu before a potential last-16 meeting with Ons Jabeur, who first has to get past Poland's Magda Linette.

Meanwhile, Karolina Pliskova – who has a first-round clash with France's Tessah Andrianjafitrimo – could set up a quarter-final meeting with Swiatek, but the Pole may have to get past Simona Halep in the fourth round first.

Defending champion Barbora Krejcikova starts against Diane Parry, while Naomi Osaka was drawn against the in-form Amanda Anisimova, who beat the Japanese in the third round of the Australian Open.

Daniil Medvedev was defeated on his ATP Tour return at the Geneva Open by a sparkling Richard Gasquet, a blow to the Russian ahead of the French Open

World number two Medvedev was making his first appearance since March after undergoing a hernia operation and fell to a 6-2 7-6 (7-5) defeat.

The Russian's rustiness was clear in the last-16 tussle as he racked up seven double faults and struggled to make inroads on Gasquet's second serve, with the Frenchman winning 61 per cent of points behind it.

It was the first time Gasquet overcame an opponent ranked in the top two since beating Roger Federer at the 2005 Monte Carlo Masters.

Next up for Gasquet will be Kamil Majchrzak, who beat Marco Cecchinato 6-2 6-3.

At the last-32 stage, Fabio Fognini went down 6-4 6-3 to Thanasi Kokkinakis and Albert Ramos-Vinolas succumbed to a 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 loss against Christopher O'Connell.

Johan Nikles, Nikoloz Basilashvili and Joao Sousa also advanced to the second round.

Top seed Cameron Norrie cruised into the quarter-finals of the Lyon Open by beating Francisco Cerundolo 6-4 6-4.

The Briton will face another Argentinian next in the form of Sebastian Baez, who came from a set down to beat Oscar Otte 5-7 6-4 6-2. 

Alex De Minaur also had to rally for a 1-6 6-3 6-2 win against Ugo Humbert, with Yosuke Watanuki awaiting in the last eight after the world number 263 beat Soonwoo Kwon 6-3 6-4.

Daniil Medvedev remains hopeful he can feature at Wimbledon despite Russian and Belarusian players being banned from the tournament due to the conflict in Ukraine.

The All England Club, along with the Lawn Tennis Association, confirmed in April that Russian and Belarusian players would not be permitted to play this year, due to Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

That means unless the ATP and WTA can convince tournament organisers to rethink, men's world number two and reigning US Open champion Medvedev will not compete at Wimbledon.

The decision has split opinion in tennis, with the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andrey Rublev questioning the ruling, while Andy Murray expressed his backing.

However, Medvedev has not given up hope that Wimbledon may opt for a late change of heart and allow him to play.

"I don't know if this decision is 100 per cent and it's over [for me]," the Russian said.

"If I can play, I'm going to be happy to play in Wimbledon. I love this tournament. If I cannot play – well, I'm going to try to play other tournaments and prepare well for next year if I have the chance to play."

Questions remain as to a potential backlash should Wimbledon exclude the two countries' players from appearing, with reports suggesting the ATP and WTA may remove ranking points from the tournament.

"I tried to follow what's happening because I don't have any decisions to make. It's right now about Wimbledon itself, the ATP, maybe the British government is involved," Medvedev added.

"It's a tricky situation and like every situation in life, you ask 100 players, everybody's going to give a different opinion.

"[When] you show a tennis ball to 100 people, I'm sure some of them are going to say it's green and not yellow. I think it's yellow. [But] if somebody tells me it's green, I'm not going to get in conflict with this person."

Medvedev returns to action this week at the Geneva Open, where he faces Richard Gasquet or Australian John Millman in his opening match after recovering from a hernia injury that kept him out for six weeks.

Adrian Mannarino dumped sixth seed Aslan Karatsev out of the Lyon Open with a straight-sets victory on day one.

Mannarino secured a 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 win on Sunday to reach the second round in his homeland.

The Frenchman roared back from 5-1 down in the first set and rocked Karatsev further by winning the tie-break.

Mannarino then claimed the only break of the second set to advance at the expense of the Russian.

Holger Rune will be his opponent in round two following the Dane's 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-3) defeat of Arthur Rinderknech.

Francisco Cerundolo will do battle with top seed Cameron Norrie in the second round after the Argentine saw off James Duckworth 6-2 3-6 6-3.

There were just two matches in the first round of the Geneva Open, with Tallon Griekspoor and Kamil Majchrzak progressing at the expense of seeds Tommy Paul (6) and Alexander Bublik (8) respectively. 

Tennis stars Gael Monfils and Elina Svitolina are expecting a child, with their baby girl due to be born in October.

Monfils is the ATP world number 21, while Ukrainian Svitolina is ranked 27th in the WTA rankings.

On Sunday, the pair, who married in 2021, announced the news on their official Twitter accounts.

"With a heart full of love and happiness, we are delighted to announce that we are expecting a baby girl in October," a post on each of their accounts read.

Svitolina has been outspoken about her opinion on Russian and Belarusian athletes participating on the Tour, in the wake of Russia's invasion of her homeland.

In April, the 27-year-old called for Russian and Belarusian players to be banned from all international tennis events unless they denounce the invasion in Ukraine.

She decided to take a break from tennis in March, citing a back problem.

Novak Djokovic claimed his 1,000th ATP Tour win with a dominant victory over Casper Ruud in the semi-final of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Saturday.

The world number one was in fine touch, winning an imposing 40 per cent of return points on first serve as he defeated the Norweigian world number 10 6-4 6-3 and progressed to the Rome final.

The Serbian becomes the fifth player in the open era to reach 1,000 wins, joining Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

After the match, Djokovic asserted how seeing contemporaries in Federer and Nadal achieve respective milestones in 2015 and 2020 provided motivation.

"Thanks to the tournament and the crowd for celebrating the milestone with me," Djokovic said post-match.

"I've seen Roger and Rafa celebrate those milestones in the last couple of years and I was looking forward to get to that 1,000 myself. I'm really, really blessed and privileged to have that many victories on the tour.

"It's been a long time, ever since I won my first match on the tour. Hopefully I can keep going and many more victories to come."

Djokovic will look for victory 1,001 when he faces Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final, after he defeated Alexander Zverev 4-6 6-3 6-3.

The 34-year-old leads their head-to-head matchup 6-2, with the last meeting being Djokovic's epic five-set win in the French Open final last year. Djokovic also won last year's quarter-final in Rome between the two.

This final appearance makes for the Greek world number five's best result in Rome, and he is savouring his time at the Foro Italico.

"It's one of those tournaments that I think has the most history in sport," Tsitsipas said. "As you can see looking around the sides, one of the most beautiful stadiums.

"There's a lot of history playing on these courts and you feel very proud that you made your way here and are able to participate in such a historically rich event."

Matteo Berrettini has confirmed he will skip the French Open later this month as he continues to recover from surgery on his right hand.

The Italian has played only six matches since his semi-final loss to Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open in January, undergoing surgery following the Indian Wells Masters.

On Saturday, the 26-year-old confirmed he is making progress but not yet ready to return for the second grand slam of the year.

"My hand is feeling great, and I am working hard to build up my match fitness," Berrettini posted on Instagram.

"My team and I have made the decision that going straight back into five-set matches on clay at Roland Garros would not be sensible, therefore I will delay my comeback to compete in the full grass season.

"Thank you as always for all the support. I can't wait to be back competing."

The world number eight reached the quarter-finals last year in Paris, losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in four sets, before losing again in four sets to Djokovic in the Wimbledon final.

Novak Djokovic will face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Internazionali BNL d'Italia final after beating Casper Ruud.in straights sets to claim his 1,000th ATP Tour win.

Djokovic secured a return to the top of the rankings by defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime on Friday and the legendary Serb, who turns 35 next week, was celebrating again in Rome on Saturday after reaching an astonishing landmark.

The 20-time grand slam champion beat Ruud 6-4 6-3 at the Foro Italico to set up a repeat of last year's French Open final, which he won by storming back from two sets down to deny Tsitsipas a maiden major triumph.

Djokovic is only the fifth man in the Open Era to reach 1,000 wins and will take his record tally of ATP Masters 1000 finals to an incredible 55 on Sunday.

A five-time winner on the clay in the Italian capital, Djokovic made a blistering start, breezing into a 4-0 lead as Ruud was unable to hold twice under huge pressure from the Serb.

Ruud warmed to the task, breaking back to reduce the deficit to 5-3, but the first set was over when the 23-year-old sliced a backhand long after being forced wide by the top seed.

Norwegian Ruud started the second set with a commanding hold to love and there were no further break points until Djokovic moved into a 4-3 lead.

Ruud had saved three break points with excellent defence on the back foot, but Djokovic was not to be denied at the fourth time of asking.

Djokovic consolidated that break to stand on the brink of the final and then broke again to seal the victory with his 20th winner of the semi-final, dispatching a forehand beyond Ruud, who he beat at the same stage of this tournament two years ago.

The Belgrade native will be out to extend his record of ATP Masters 1000 titles to 36 when he faces Greek Tsitsipas for the first time since breaking his heart at Roland Garros last season.

Felix Auger-Aliassime proved no match for Novak Djokovic, who looks well set to claim his first title of 2022.

It has been a frustrating season to date for the Serbian, who reached a final in Belgrade last month before being beaten by rising star Carlos Alcaraz in Madrid earlier in May.

Yet with Rafael Nadal out of the picture, Djokovic is the clear favourite heading into the Internazionali d'Italia semi-finals, after he beat Auger-Aliassime 7-5 7-6 (7-1) on Friday.

The win not only tees up a semi-final against Casper Ruud, who saw off Nadal's conqueror Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (9-7) 7-5, but also ensures Djokovic will spend a 370th week at the top of the ATP rankings, after he slipped below Daniil Medvedev in the live standings.

Djokovic will add 360 points to his total for reaching the last four, and he now has a milestone 1,000th Tour-level win in his sights when he takes on Ruud for a place in the final. The 34-year-old has won a record 37 Masters 1000 titles so far in his career, including five in Rome.

"I thought it was high-level tennis," Djokovic said. "[Auger-Aliassime] did ask me to raise the level and I had to play consistently well.

"I thought I could have finished the job earlier, but credit to him for fighting back. 

"I know Felix well. He's been around the top of the men's game for quite a few years. He's got a lethal serve, honestly. He's hitting his spots in the box incredibly well with the serve, and it was not easy for me at all to return.

"He's also returning well, he's moving well. He's a very complete player."

The other semi-final will see second seed Alexander Zverev, who beat Cristian Garin 7-5 6-2, take on Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Greek Tsitsipas overcame Jannik Sinner 7-6 (7-5) 6-2, becoming the first player to reach 30 wins on the ATP Tour in 2022.

"We have similar game styles but he is one of the most difficult players to play against on the Tour," Tsitsipas said, previewing his clash with Zverev.

"I have a lot of respect for him. He has achieved a lot so far and I try and look up to him with the things he has achieved."

Rafael Nadal conceded he is "living with an injury" after suffering his earliest Internazionali d'Italia exit since 2008 against Denis Shapovalov, but still hopes to compete at the French Open later this month.

Record 21-time grand slam winner Nadal fell to a 1-6 7-5 6-2 defeat to Shapovalov in the third round in Rome on Thursday after struggling with a foot injury throughout the match.

The 35-year-old could be seen regularly limping and battling through the pain, but his resistance ultimately wilted as the Canadian surged to victory after winning 12 straight points from 2-2 in the deciding set.

Nadal, speaking after the defeat, detailed the struggles he is having on a day-to-day basis as injury problems continue to hamper him.

"I am not injured. I am living with an injury. My day-by-day is difficult," he told reporters.

"I am trying hard but of course, it's difficult to accept the situation at times. A lot of days I can't practice the proper way.

"It started halfway through the second set and it was unplayable for me. [But] I don't want to take away credit from Denis that he deserves."

Asked about his chances of being fit for the French Open, which starts on Sunday, May 22 at Roland Garros, the Spaniard responded: "[It's] still the goal, in one week and a couple of days. I'll still keep dreaming.

"Maybe in two days, things are better, the things that I have on my foot. It's true that during Roland Garros I'm going to have my doctor with me – that sometimes helps."

Defeat to Shapovalov also meant Nadal will drop to number five in the world rankings, leaving him facing a potential meeting with the top seed in the quarter-finals of the French Open, which he has won a record 13 times.

 

Rafael Nadal suffered his earliest Internazionali d'Italia exit since 2008 at the hands of Denis Shapovalov on Thursday, but Novak Djokovic advanced to the quarter-finals. 

'King of Clay' Nadal fell to a 1-6 7-5 6-2 defeat to Shapovalov in the third round in Rome, with the Canadian surging to victory after winning 12 straight points from 2-2 in the deciding set. 

The legendary Spaniard stormed through the first set thanks to a series of brilliant returns, but his opponent dominated at the net in the second to take the match the distance. 

Shapovalov then flipped the narrative on its head by winning 14 of a possible 22 return points to set up a quarter-final meeting with Casper Ruud, who beat Jenson Brooksby 6-3 6-4. 

Djokovic is one win away from retaining his status as world number one after taking just 75 minutes to see off three-time grand slam winner Stan Wawrinka 6-2 6-2. 

After a lengthy spell out injured, Wawrinka ended a 15-month wait for an ATP Tour victory at Foro Italico before the Serbian brought his run to an end. 

"It is great to see Stan back and winning. He won two tough matches. You can see he is still not physically where he wants to be. But, nevertheless, he is Stan Wawrinka and he can hurt you if you give him time," Djokovic said. 

"I managed to do well from the beginning. I really moved him around the court and held my serve comfortably except for that loss of my serve in the second set." 

Felix Auger-Aliassime stands between Djokovic and the number one spot after overcoming lucky loser Marcos Giron 6-3 6-2. 

In the other half of the draw, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Jannik Sinner will play out an entertaining quarter-final after they beat Karen Khachano and Filip Krajinovic respectively. 

Alexander Zverev, the defeated finalist in Madrid last week, beat Alex De Minaur 6-3 7-6 (7-5) and will battle Cristian Garin for a place in the final four.

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