Novak Djokovic strolled into the Italian Open quarter-finals on Thursday with a routine 6-2, 6-2 win over Stan Wawrinka, while Iga Swiatek continued her bid for a fifth straight tournament victory by beating Victoria Azarenka. Chasing a sixth title in Rome, Djokovic took one hour, 16 minutes to get past his Swiss opponent without stretching himself and will now face Felix Auger-Aliassime in the last eight. Wawrinka, whose first-round victory over Reilly Opelka was his first win in 15 months, was no match for top seed Djokovic and beyond a few classic passing shots he offered little resistance.
The injury-hit 37-year-old, now ranked 361 in the world, beat Djokovic in finals to win two of his three Grand Slam titles, but has now lost 20 of their 26 career meetings.
“It’s great to see Stan back… You can see that physically he’s still not there where he wants to be but nevertheless he’s Stan Wawrinka. He can hurt you if you give time,” Djokovic said after the match.
“I think I did well on that count. I really moved him around the court and held my serve pretty comfortably.”
The only real moment of pressure for Djokovic was when Wawrinka broke serve in game six of the second set.
However he failed to capitalise, double faulting at break point in the very next game to hand 20-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic a chance to serve for the match which he did not pass up.
Djokovic could face third seed Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals with the King of Clay set to face Canada’s Denis Shapovalov on centre court.
Swiatek ‘wins ugly’
World number one Swiatek claimed her 25th straight victory, defeating Azarenka 6-4, 6-1 despite a rocky start.
Swiatek, 20, is the favourite for the French Open which starts later this month and showed why in an impressive performance against Azarenka, herself a former top-ranked player and the two-time Australian Open winner.
However she had to come back from losing the first three games of the match and then battled through a series of long games before finally breaking Azarenka’s resolve early in the decisive second set.
“I didn’t start well, and everybody could see that. I’m really happy with the way I reacted and how I improved in the first set,” Swiatek told reporters.
“I’m happy that I could kind of win ugly in the first set, then improve in the second. It gives me confidence that even when my game is not hundred percent good, I can still win matches. So it works both ways.”
Early bird Zverev
Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas could face off in the semi-finals of the men’s tournament after both making it through to the quarter-finals.
World number three Zverev saw off Alex de Minaur 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) in the early match on centre court to set up a last-eight clash with Cristian Garin, who beat Marin Cilic 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
The German had complained about always playing late into the night in his run to the Madrid final last week and so far has been allocated two morning matches in the Italian capital.
“I prefer to play at 11am (0900 GMT) rather than 1am (2300 GMT). I think every player would say that. Something in between would also be nice I think,” Zverev told reporters.
Monte Carlo Masters champion Tsitsipas was forced to work harder for his 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 win over former Paris Masters winner Karen Khachanov.
In the last eight Tsitsipas will take on local hero Jannik Sinner, the only Italian left in the men’s draw after he saw off Filip Krajinovic 6-2, 7-6 (8/6).
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