Nadal coasts into Italian Open quarter-finals

Rome (AFP) –

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Rafael Nadal swept aside Serb Dusan Lajovic to reach the Italian Open quarter-finals on Friday as he warms up for the final Grand Slam of the season at Roland Garros.

The nine-time Rome winner came through 6-1, 6-3 against the 25th-ranked Lajovic, who had valiantly but vainly launched a fightback after trailing 4-0 in the second set to the Spaniard.

World number two Nadal next meets Argentine eighth seed Diego Schwartzman who dropped a set before recovering to see off Poland's Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Nadal, 34, won his first Rome title back in 2005, and is bidding for a third consecutive crown on clay in the Italian capital and 10th in total.

The 12-time French Open champion is returning to competition, having not played since winning in Acapulco in February, opting to skip the US hard court tour because of coronavirus concerns.