Novak Djokovic cruised past Stan Wawrinka in their first meeting since 2019 to reach the quarter-finals of the Italian Open for the 16th year in a row.
The world No. 1 proved too strong for Wawrinka, who was playing only his second ATP tournament of the season after a year-long absence due to a foot injury.
Djokovic broke twice in the first set and three more times in the second set to win 6-2 6-2. He will next face Felix Auger-Aliassime and needs just one more win in Rome to guarantee he will be world No. 1 heading into the French Open, which starts on May 22.
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"It’s great to see Stan back, he won two matches, tough two matches, he is still physically not where he wants to be but nevertheless he’s Stan Wawrinka and he can hurt you if you give him time," said Djokovic.
"I managed to do well from the beginning, I moved him around the court and hold my serve pretty comfortably except for the loss of serve in the second set. Pretty much a very good performance.
Wawrinka had won his previous two matches against Djokovic, including in the 2016 US Open final, and memorably won when they met in the French Open final in 2015.
However, this time around he was no match for the world No. 1, who seems to be hitting form ahead of the second Grand Slam of the year and now leads the head to head 20-6.
Djokovic was in control from the start as he broke in the opening game of the match.
World No. 361 Wawrinka, bidding to become the lowest-ranked player to beat a world No. 1 in a tour-level match since 1990, struggled to make inroads against the serve and was broken again in the seventh game.
The second set continued in similar fashion as Djokovic outclassed Wawrinka to advance.
Stefanos Tsitsipas recovered from a slow start as he beat Karen Khachanov 4-6 6-0 6-3.
The world No. 5 won nine consecutive games after losing the first set as he turned the match around.
"It was a great, great match. I really upgraded my game in the second set," Tsitsipas said in his on-court interview. "I was really able to follow through after every shot. I loosened up a little bit and concentrated on depth a little bit more.
"I hit great serves towards the end of the third set. I was able to stay calm on each serve and I was not rushing. I tried to visualise my patterns and it was a great last game."
Tsitsipas will next face Jannik Sinner, who beat Filip Krajinovic 6-2 7-6(6) to reach the quarter-finals in Rome for the first time.
Alexander Zverev secured his 100th ATP Masters 1000 win as he beat Alex de Minaur 6-3 7-6(5).
The Madrid Open runner-up came through in one hour and 50 minutes to advance into the quarter-finals.
"My performance was better than yesterday [against Sebastian Baez]. I managed to keep my focus,” said Zverev.
"Alex is a great player and he is a great returner, so losing your serve here and there can happen. I need to work on serving out a little more. I tried to stay aggressive. I had to hit my shots quite hard against Alex and it worked out well today."
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