Rafa Nadal sweeps into Rome quarter-finals

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Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal
AFP

Rafael Nadal swept aside Serb Dusan Lajovic to reach the Italian Open quarter-finals on Friday as he warms up on clay before bidding to match the all-time Grand Slam record in Roland Garros.

The world number two has returned this week in Rome after a six-month coronavirus-enforced break before attempting to match Roger Federer's all-time record of 20 Grand Slam titles in Paris.

The 12-time French Open winner insisted he was not obsessed with matching Federer, absent until 2021 with a knee injury.

"For me it's not an obsession at all," Nadal, 34, told journalists after brushing aside 25th-ranked Lajovic 6-1, 6-3.

Lajovic had valiantly but vainly launched a fightback after trailing 4-0 in the second set to the Spaniard.

"I always say the same. I did all my career my way, and that's what I'm going to keep doing," he continued.

"I can't be all the time thinking about what Roger had or what Novak (Djokovic) or what the other... I know that you put a lot of attention on all of this.

"Of course I would love to finish my career with 25 (Grand Slams) but that's something that probably will not happen," he smiled.

"I'm going to keep fighting to produce chances, and then when I finish my career, let's see. I just want to keep enjoying tennis.

"And that's it. If I am playing well, I know I normally have my chances. If not, it's going to be impossible. That's it."

Nadal declared himself pleased with how his return was going after easing past fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 6-1, 6-1 in his first match earlier in the week.

"I played two good solid matches," he said.

"I played at, I think, a very positive level of tennis. Of course it needs to keep improving.

"I need to keep working in a couple of things that things are not coming automatic.

"But I can't ask for more. Have been another great evening for me against another good opponent.

"Much better, not what I expected."

Nadal next meets Argentine eighth seed Diego Schwartzman, a player he has beaten in all nine of their previous meetings.

Nadal 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.

Before this week he had not played since winning in Acapulco in February, opting to skip the US hard court tour.

Collated results from the fifth day of the ATP and WTA Italian Open in Rome on Friday (x denotes seed):

Men

3rd rd

Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) bt Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 7-6 (9/7), 6-3

Dominik Koepfer (GER) bt Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 6-4, 6-0

Matteo Berrettini (ITA x4) bt Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/1)

Casper Ruud (NOR) bt Marin Cilic (CRO) 6-2, 7-6 (8/6)

Denis Shapovalov (CAN x12) bt Ugo Humbert (FRA) 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-4

Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x15) bt Jannik Sinner (ITA) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4

Diego Schwartzman (ARG x8) bt Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4

Rafael Nadal (ESP x2) bt Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-1, 6-3

Women

3rd rd

Simona Halep (ROM x1) bt Dayana Yastremska (UKR) 7-5, 6-4

Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) bt Elena Rybakina (KAZ x10) 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-2

Victoria Azarenka (BLR) bt Darya Kasatkina (RUS) 6-6 retired

Garbine Muguruza (ESP x9) bt Johanna Konta (GBR x7) 6-4, 6-1

Marketa Vondrousova (CZE x12) bt Polona Hercog (SLO) 1-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7/5)

Elina Svitolina (UKR x4) bt Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 7-6 (8/6), 6-4

Elise Mertens (BEL x11) bt Danka Kovinic (MNE) 6-4, 6-4

Karolna Pliskova (CZE x2) bt Anna Blinkova (RUS) 6-4, 6-3

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