Djokovic beats Bautista Agut to reach Italian Open QFs

ROME (AP) - Rafael Nadal's preparations for the French Open continued apace as he swept past 13th-seeded Jack Sock 6-3, 6-4 Thursday to ease into the Italian Open quarterfinals and extend his winning streak to 17 matches.

And he will get the chance in the quarter-finals when he faces Argentina's in-form Juan Martin del Potro, who was an impressive 7-6 (7/4) 6-3 victor over seventh seed Kei Nishikori.

Novak Djokovic has endured a disappointing year and recently parted company with his long-time coaching staff, but the Serbian appeared to have rediscovered some drive and broke three times to advance under blue skies in Rome.

"Mentally I felt better and better as time went by".

Djokovic was moving around the court more freely than he has been for much of this season, breaking to lead 4-3 when Bautista Agut netted a backhand and wrapping up the opening set after saving a first break point in the next game.

"I feel like today's match was one of the better ones that I have played this clay-court season, but also in the past couple of months", Djokovic said.

"It s coming at the right time, we re getting closer to Roland Garros". I can play a bit more aggressive than the way I played tonight, but overall I m happy.

Murray's best performance was winning the Dubai title in February, but he looks to be struggling to replicate the blistering displays that carried him to the number one spot at the end of previous year.

Isner next faces another big server in sixth-seeded Marin Cilic, who dismissed ninth-seeded David Goffin 6-3, 6-4.

Isner, ranked 24th in the world, reached the last-eight on Thursday when he upset world number three Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland 7-6 (7/1), 6-4.

In the women's draw, Venus Williams defeated Johanna Konta 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.

Home favorite Fabio Fognini, who saw off top-seeded Andy Murray on Tuesday, lost 6-3, 6-3 to Alexander Zverev, who will play fifth-seeded Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals after the Canadian beat Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-2.

"It's so different when you're talking about it or when you're playing it", she said.

Russian Federation s Svetlana Kuznetsova, the seventh seed, suffered a 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 defeat to Australian qualifier Daria Gavrilova.


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