Yoshihito Nishioka produced an impressive display to shock Denis Shapovalov in the Korea Open final and win his first ATP Tour title in four years.

The Japanese player earned a 6-4 7-6 (7-5) triumph in a competitive contest against fourth seed Shapovalov on Sunday that lasted just under two hours.

Victory gave Nishioka his first trophy since the Shenzhen Open in 2018 and capped a memorable week that also saw him defeat top seed Casper Ruud at the ATP 250 event in Seoul.

Nishioka took a big step towards the second title of his career by breaking Shapovalov at a crucial moment when he was 5-4 up in the opener, both players having earlier saved break points.

His Canadian opponent was in the ascendancy after claiming an early break in the second set but Nishioka fought back from 3-1 down to force a tie-break and then won four of the first five points in the breaker.

Despite Shapovalov reducing the deficit, he was consigned to defeat when he sent a forehand wide, Nishioka dropping to his knees in delight after converting his second match point.

Shapovalov, a Wimbledon semi-finalist last year, has now lost in four consecutive ATP final appearances and still has just one career title to his name.

Yoshihito Nishioka followed up a claiming a series of scalps by avoiding a shock of his own as he defeated ATP Tour main-draw debutant Aleksandar Kovacevic to reach the Korea Open final.

Nishioka, who will return to the ATP's top 50, eliminated fifth seed Dan Evans in the first round and later top seed Casper Ruud in the quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, Kovacevic made his main-draw bow on Monday, beating seventh seed Miomir Kecmanovic, and continued a sensational run all the way to the last four.

The American threatened another upset on Saturday, but Nishioka held his nerve to advance 6-3 4-6 6-3 in Seoul.

And now the Japanese will revert to the role of underdog on Sunday, with fourth seed Denis Shapovalov his opponent in the championship match.

Nishioka has only one ATP Tour title to his name, and he will have his work cut out if he is to add to that against Shapovalov, who is yet to drop a set this week.

The Canadian continued that sequence with a 7-5 6-4 success against Jenson Brooksby in the first semi-final.

Casper Ruud stumbled to defeat against Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka as the French Open and US Open runner-up bowed out in the Korea Open quarter-finals.

World number two Ruud lost 6-2 3-6 6-2 in Seoul on Friday as the Norwegian found the going too tough in his first tournament in Asia for three years.

Ranked 56th before this week, Nishioka is one win away from vaulting back into the top 50, potentially going beyond his highest ranking of 48th if he reaches the final.

He said, quoted on the ATP website: "I feel great. My motivation is very high. I am playing very well, very smart."

Assessing top seed Ruud, Nishioka said: "I know he came from Europe and played at the Laver Cup, which is not easy matches. He wasn't settled on this court or this country yet, maybe. I was ready. I was focused on playing against him and I had a plan and it worked."

Nishioka had an outstanding run to the Washington final in August, before losing out to Nick Kyrgios in the title match. That was a major outlier in his season, which has consisted largely of early-round defeats.

His semi-final opponent will be American Aleksandar Kovacevic, a 24-year-old world number 222 who is enjoying the biggest week of his career. A 'lucky loser', handed his place in the draw when a spot opened up, Kovacevic has taken full advantage and beat compatriot Mackenzie McDonald 4-6 6-3 6-2 in their last-eight battle.

Canadian Denis Shapovalov, still seeking a first final appearance of the year, moved one step away by beating Moldova's Radu Albot 6-2 6-2, setting up a clash with American Jenson Brooksby, who was handed a bye due to Cameron Norrie pulling out with illness.

Denis Shapovalov claimed a spot in the quarter-finals of the Korea Open by seeing off the challenge of Spain's Jaume Munar on Wednesday.

The 2021 Wimbledon semi-finalist needed 109 minutes to claim a 7-5 6-4 win over Munar, assuming control by breaking in the seventh game of the opener before doing likewise early in the second set.

Canadian Shapovalov – who is seeded fourth for the event – had not featured since a dramatic loss to Andrey Rublev at the US Open earlier this month, but produced a consistent display in Seoul, not committing a single double fault during the match.

His reward for the victory is a last-eight tie with Radu Albot, who held his nerve in two tie-breaks to record a 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-3) win over Steve Johnson.

In Wednesday's other match, Japan's Taro Daniel beat Ecuador's Emilio Gomez in straight sets in the duo's round-of-32 tie. 

Top seed Casper Ruud begins his campaign against Nicolas Jarry on Thursday.

Finland's Emil Ruusuvuori collected a big-name scalp on the opening day of the Canadian Open, defeating three-time grand slam winner Stan Wawrinka 6-3 3-6 6-3 on Monday.

Although the 37-year-old Wawrinka is no longer at his best – ranked 322nd in the world – he still put up a strong fight against his 23-year-old opponent, creating eight break point opportunities in the match while facing nine.

Ruusuvuori will play eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz in the second round in a tough matchup, while Slovakia's Alex Molcan will play fourth seed Casper Ruud after defeating American Mackenzie McDonald 7-6 (7-1) 6-4.

Molcan's advantage was in his serve, winning 74 per cent (49-of-66) of his service points compared to 59 per cent (49-of-83) for McDonald.

In a clash between a pair of top-30 talents, Russia's Karen Khachanov got the better of Argentina's Francisco Cerundolo 7-6 (7-4) 5-7 6-3. He will play the winner between 13th seed Marin Cilic and Croatia's Borna Coric next.

Recent runner-up of the Atlanta Open Jenson Brooskby had no issues with Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik, winning 6-2 6-3, and he will likely play Roberto Bautista-Agut in the second round as the Spaniard leads 7-6 (7-5) 2-1 with a break in the second set when a rain delay ended the day's play.

One of Canada's top hopes, Denis Shapovalov, will have his back up against the wall when his match resumes against Alex de Minaur, losing the first set 7-5, with the rain arriving in the middle of the second-set tiebreaker.

Jack Draper will head back onto the court with a set advantage against Hugo Gaston after winning the opener 6-2, although he will have to save a break point first up.

Second seed Hubert Hurkacz was a shock second-round casualty from the Citi Open on Wednesday after a straight-sets defeat to Emil Ruusuvuori.

World number 46 Ruusuvuori triumphed 6-4 7-6 (7-3) in one hour and 43 minutes to book a quarter-final spot.

Hurkacz, who is ranked 11th in the world and reached last year's Wimbledon semi-finals, fought hard but failed to capitalise on four break points throughout the match.

"He had an early break point, but then I was able to keep that service game and give myself a chance to break him and I was able to use it and then just try to keep my own serve," Ruusuvuori said.

"I just tried to hang in there and tried to stay as tough as [I] can."

Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios defeated 14th seed Tommy Paul 6-3 6-4 in one hour and 25 minutes.

The Australian hit 29-21 winners, with the majority coming from his serve and forehand, sending down 15 aces, winning 84 per cent on his first serve.

Kyrgios, who broke Paul in his opening service game, converted three of four break points for the match, while the American failed to capitalise on any of his four.

Sixth seed Denis Shapovalov was bundled out in the second round by American wildcard J.J. Wolf 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 in a major upset.

Third seed Taylor Fritz avoided an early exit with a 6-4 6-4 win over Australian Alexei Popyrin in one hour and 11 minutes, while fourth seed Reilly Opelka came from a set down to defeat Denis Kudla 6-7 (6-8) 6-4 6-4 in just over two hours. Opelka sent down 28 aces across the match.

Fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov got past Adrian Mannarino 6-1 3-6 7-5 and ninth seed Holger Rune brushed off Benoit Paire 6-3 6-2.

Francis Tiafoe defeated Christopher Eubanks 6-3 7-6 (7-2), while 13th seed Maxime Cressy fought back from an early deficit to get past Jack Sock 4-6 6-4 6-0 to set up a third-round clash with top seed Andrey Rublev.

There were defeats for 11th seed Alex de Minaur to Yoshihito Nishioka 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-2, 12th seed Sebastian Baez against Sebastian Korda 6-1 6-4 and 15th seed Aslan Karatsev against Andy Murray's first-round conqueror Mikael Ymer 6-4 3-6 6-4.

At the Los Cabos Open in Mexico, second seed Felix Auger-Aliassime had no troubles against local Juan Alejandro Hernandez Serrano, winning 6-3 7-5.

American sixth seed Brandon Nakashima also progressed into the quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-3 win over Max Purcell, while Miomir Kecmanovic beat Jordan Thompson 6-4 6-2.

Daniil Medvedev eventually mastered the windy conditions as he came from behind to keep his Mallorca Championships defence alive, but Jannik Sinner and Diego Schwartzman crashed out in Eastbourne. 

World number one Medvedev fought back from a set down to defeat Aslan Karatsev 3-6 6-4 6-2 and advance to a quarter-final against fifth seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who was granted a walkover after Nick Kyrgios pulled out with an abdominal issue. 

The Russian got just 48 per cent of his first serves in during a blustery opening set before improving to 68 per cent in the second and controlling the decider as Karatsev struggled with injury. 

"It was tough to play [in] rhythm. It felt like many points were just whoever managed to put the ball in the court was going to win the point," Medvedev said of the tricky conditions. 

"It was not easy but I'm happy to win because that's the most important [thing]. 

"Last year was amazing. I played great tennis. Hopefully I can do the same this year. I like it here in Mallorca, so hopefully I can stay as long as possible in the tournament." 

Alongside Medvedev and Bautista Agut, Stefanos Tsitsipas is the only other seed left in the draw after he overcame Ilya Ivashka 6-4 6-4. 

Denis Shapovalov was a 6-4 6-1 loser against Benjamin Bonzi, Pablo Carreno Busta went down 6-3 6-4 to Antoine Bellier and Sebastian Baez's meeting with Daniel Altmaier ended in a 6-2 2-6 6-4 defeat for the Argentine. 

At the Eastbourne International, second seed Sinner suffered a 6-3 3-6 6-3 loss to Tommy Paul as he made his return from a knee injury sustained at the French Open.

World number 13 Sinner remains without a grass-court win in his ATP Tour career, while Paul will next face defending champion Alex de Minaur, who overcame Lorenzo Sonego 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 in a repeat of last year's final. 

Jack Draper defeated fourth seed Diego Schwartzman 7-5 7-6 (7-3) to advance to the quarter-finals and Cameron Norrie cruised past Brandon Nakashima in straight sets.

There were also wins for Maxime Cressy, Alexander Bublik and Taylor Fritz. 

A spirited fightback from Nick Kyrgios saw the Australian beat second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Halle Open on Wednesday.

Kyrgios suffered a disappointing semi-final defeat to Andy Murray in Stuttgart last week, but looked greatly improved against Tsitsipas as he recovered from a set down to win 5-7 6-2 6-4.

It was the second serve of both men where Kyrgios shone, winning 76 per cent (28 of 37) of points on his second serve, and 58 per cent (23 of 40) on his opponent's.

"Stef is one of the best players in the world at the moment and he's going to have some amazing results and I'm sure many, many grand slams," Kyrgios said following his win.

"I don't know if I can say the same for me, but I'm happy to still be able to produce this level with the tournaments I play. It is a testament to how hard I do work when I'm not playing."

He will face Pablo Carreno Busta in the quarter-finals after the Spanish sixth seed beat Sebastian Korda 6-4 0-6 6-3.

Elsewhere, Hubert Hurkacz will face Felix Auger-Aliassime in the last eight after defeating Ugo Humbert 7-6 (7-5) 6-3, while the Canadian also won in straight sets against Mackenzie McDonald 7-6 (9-7) 6-1.

The one remaining first round match saw number one seed Daniil Medvedev beat David Goffin 6-3 6-2 to set up a second round clash with Ilya Ivashka.

At the Queen's Club Championships, sixth seed Denis Shapovalov was eliminated by Tommy Paul 6-4 2-6 6-4, with the American now scheduled to face Stanislas Wawrinka in the second round.

It means that six of the eight seeds in west London were knocked out in the first round, with Matteo Berrettini and Marin Cilic the only remaining seeds. The latter sealed his place in the quarter-finals on Wednesday with a 7-6 (8-6) 7-5 win over Alexander Bublik.

Cilic will play Finland's Emil Ruusuvuori in the last eight after he beat home favourite Jack Draper 6-2 7-6 (7-2).

The best contest of the day came between Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Alex de Minaur, with the former coming from behind to win 4-6 6-4 7-5 to set up a quarter-final with Botic van de Zandschulp, who beat Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.

Top seed Casper Ruud suffered a shock first-round exit at the Queen's Club Championships, going down in straight sets to British ATP Tour debutant Ryan Peniston in west London.

The French Open runner-up struggled to get going as he fell to a 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-2) defeat to the world number 180, who was backed by a boisterous home crowd throughout.

Ruud struggled from the off as Peniston forced four break points in the Norwegian's first service game, and his miserable outing was rounded off when his opponent raced into a 5-1 lead before serving out a second-set tie-break.

After claiming the scalp of the world number five, Peniston told the BBC: "I can't really believe it. It feels like a dream. It doesn't feel real.

"I think I've been playing well. Casper is an unreal player and he did so well at the French Open, so I knew it was a tough ask. Four or five years ago I was sitting in the crowd just watching so to be here now is just unreal."

Ruud was not the only big name to fall at the first hurdle, with fifth seed Diego Schwartzman going down 6-1 6-4 against big-serving Sam Querrey to become the fourth of the top five seeds to fail to reach the round of 16.

Second seed and defending champion Matteo Berrettini is the exception after faring much better against another home favourite, cruising past Dan Evans 6-3 6-3, while Stan Wawrinka downed Francis Tiafoe 7-6 (7-2) 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-5), and Denis Shapovalov's clash with Tommy Paul was suspended by darkness at one set apiece. 

Elsewhere, world number six Stefanos Tsitsipas progressed through his opening match at the Halle Open, beating Benjamin Bonzi 7-6 (7-1) 1-6 6-3 to set up an enticing last-16 clash with Nick Kyrgios, who bested Daniel Altmaier 6-3 7-5.

Fourth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime also progressed after being taken to three sets, beating Marcos Giron 6-3 5-7 6-3.

Meanwhile, defending champion Ugo Humbert will face a tough round-of-16 match against fifth seed Hubert Hurkacz after the Pole overcame Maxime Cressy 6-4 4-6 6-4. 

Daniil Medvedev started his grass-court season with victory over Gilles Simon in the Rosmalen Grass Court Championships, while Hubert Hurkacz and Denis Shapovalov suffered shock defeats in Stuttgart.

Medvedev will replace Novak Djokovic at the top of the rankings next Monday and the Russian could celebrate by claiming a first title of the year in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

The top seed, who will not compete at Wimbledon due to a ban on Russian and Belarusian players, beat Frenchman Simon 7-5 6-4 on Thursday after saving three set points and storming back from 5-2 down in the opener, setting up a quarter-final against lya Ivashka.

Felix Auger-Aliassime, the second seed, defeated Tallon Griekspoor 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-5), but third seed Taylor Fritz was beaten by wildcard Tim van Rijthoven in straight sets.

Alex de Minaur and Jenson Brooksby also made early exits, losing to French duo Adrian Mannarino and Hugo Gaston respectively.

Marton Fucsovics claimed the scalp of third seed Hurkacz to reach the last 16 at the Stuttgart Open, winning 7-5 6-7 (7-) 6-3

Shapovalov also lost his opening of the grass-court season, Oscar Otte getting the better of the fourth seed 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4)

There was no such trouble for top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Dominic Stricker 6-3 6-4, and Andy Murray accounted for seventh seed Alexander Bublik in straight sets.

Denis Shapovalov has attacked Wimbledon and the ATP for the decisions that have led to fears of players skipping the grass-court grand slam.

Canadian left-hander Shapovalov enjoyed a run to the semi-finals at the All England Club last year, eventually losing to Novak Djokovic, but he will lose all his points and be unable to defend them at the 2022 tournament.

The season's third major will not have any ranking points after the ATP and WTA, which run the men's and women's tours, respectively, effectively decided to punish the grand slam's organisers for banning Russian and Belarusian players.

Naomi Osaka has said she is unsure about playing in London on that basis, as she wants to play events where there are points available following a slide on the WTA list, and there are concerns others may also give it a miss. A number of players have voiced concern that prize money could be slashed too.

Shapovalov, who addressed the matter after a shock first-round loss to Denmark's Holger Rune at the French Open on Tuesday, said he did not agree with the banning of players or the subsequent points decision.

"I completely understand the politics and the situation they're in. But if you have a tennis tournament that's supposed to have the best athletes in the world, it shouldn't matter where you're from," Shapovalov said.

"I also don't agree with the ATP to take out all the points. The most guys it's affecting are the guys in the top rankings."

Referring to last year's semi-finalists in the men's singles, Shapovalov, who beat Andy Murray on the way to the last four, said: "Obviously Novak [Djokovic], me, Hubi [Hubert Hurkacz], [Matteo] Berrettini, who is not playing here, we're going to drop a lot.

"I think they could have gone with it a different way, maybe keep 50 per cent like they have in the past or some kind of fairness."

Karolina Pliskova lost to Ash Barty in the women's final at Wimbledon last year, and the Czech described the WTA's move to strip points from Wimbledon as a "super tough and unfair and bad decision".

She will play Wimbledon, which starts on June 27, because she feels it is a tournament she can win, and at the age of 30 she is determined to take every opportunity going to land a maiden grand slam. She could become champion this year but, because last year's Wimbledon ranking points will fall off, plunge down the rankings at the same time.

Intriguingly, Pliskova said leading WTA stars could not agree what action tour chiefs should take about points.

"We had a group of WhatsApp chat [between] top 10 players and these 10 girls could not agree on the same thing," Pliskova said. "Some girls were for no points, some were for 50 per cent, to keep just 50 per cent from last year, some were for like all the points. So it is what it is."

Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, who won the French Open in 2017 and reached the Wimbledon semi-finals a year later, suspects there could yet be a twist in the saga to come.

Ostapenko said: "There are of course a lot of rumours and talks, but I think maybe they are going to change their mind. I'm not sure about points. But I think a lot of things may happen within the next week or two weeks.

"That's my personal opinion. Maybe I'm wrong. If there are no points, I'm not really sure what I'm going to do.

"I feel like it's a little bit unfair to play the tournament when there are no points and you can win the tournament and then you don't move one spot up in the ranking."

Reigning champion Casper Ruud made a winning start to his Geneva Open title defence after defeating Benoit Paire in straight sets on Wednesday.

The world number eight triumphed in Switzerland 12 months ago with victory over Denis Shapovalov in the final, claiming the first of five ATP titles he won during an impressive campaign.

Fresh from reaching the semi-finals in Rome, the Norwegian – also a winner in Buenos Aires and a Miami runner-up this season – made a dominant start.

Although he was broken in game three of the opening set, Ruud responded immediately and a further four breaks wrapped up a commanding 6-3 6-1 victory in just 55 minutes.

Meanwhile, Reilly Opelka registered his first win on European clay this season as he saw off Christopher O'Connell.

Despite triumphing in Dallas and Houston earlier this year, Opelka has suffered first-round exits in Munich, Madrid and Rome since the latter. 

Nevertheless, the fourth seed was in fine form in Geneva, hitting 13 aces on the way to defeating the Australian qualifier.

However, there was no joy for 2021 runner-up Shapovalov as the third seed crashed out 6-4 6-7(2) 6-3 to Ilya Ivashka.

Fifth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili fell 6-4 6-3 at the hands of 2015 finalist Joao Sousa, who progresses beyond round two for the first time since reaching the Championship match seven years ago.

There were more surprise defeats in Lyon, where second seed Pablo Carreno Busta was beaten 7-5 6-3 by Federico Coria.

After taking a close opening set, the world number 59 rallied from 3-1 down in the second to reach his fourth quarter-final of the season on clay.

Karen Khachanov also bowed out to Marrakech runner-up Alex Molcan 6-2 7-6(4), while Munich champion Holger Rune built on his momentum with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Adrian Mannarino.

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.

Rafael Nadal accepts he will have to perform better than he did against John Isner if he is to overcome "dangerous" opponent Denis Shapovalov at the Internazionali d'Italia.

The world number four's bid for an 11th title in Rome got off to a strong start on Wednesday as he saw off big-serving Isner 6-3 6-1 in a time of 76 minutes.

Isner twice missed the chance to break Nadal in the seventh game of the opening set and the Spaniard took control from that point on in the second-round match.

Nadal, who has won this tournament in three of the past four years, identified that hold of serve as a key point in the contest.

"The beginning of the match was not good for me," he said in his on-court interview. "He had some chances on the return and had two break points. 

"He had two not difficult balls so I was in his hands at that moment. I was lucky that he missed those shots and then I was able to break. 

"Then the match changed, of course. With the first set on the board, and having the break in the first game of the second set, everything changed."

Nadal will now face Shapovalov in a repeat of last year's last-16 encounter, which the record 21-time grand slam winner edged in three sets.

He recovered from a set down and saved two match points before beating the Canadian 3-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3) en route to lifting the title in the Italian capital.

And Nadal, who was beaten by Carlos Alcaraz on clay in last week's Madrid Open quarter-final, is not expecting an easy task this time around.

"Last year was a joke, the match that I saved here against him," said Nadal of his next opponent. "I was super lucky. I know how dangerous he is, I need to play well. 

"I need to play better than today, but after a while without being on court it is another victory and I have the chance again to play against one of the best players in the world.

"I need to build things again after a tough stoppage and that's what I am trying now. I just need to stay with the right attitude, and let's see if I am able to make that happen."

Alexander Zverev also booked his place in the last 16 on Wednesday thanks to a 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 victory over Sebastian Baez.

Last week's Madrid Open runner-up was given a tough time of things by in-form Baez, but ultimately came through unscathed to stay on course for more silverware.

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