Defending champion Rafa Nadal recovered from losing the opening five games against Ernests Gulbis to book his place in the quarter-finals of the Rome Masters on Thursday.
The Spaniard, looking for his seventh Rome title, was shaken by a ferocious onslaught from Gulbis, losing the first set in 34 minutes, but recovered to win 1-6 7-5 6-4.
World number one Novak Djokovic had a far more comfortable workout, beating Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-1 6-4 but seventh seed Juan Martin del Potro, who met the Pope the previous day, came back to earth with a surprise defeat by Frenchman Benoit Paire.
Paire is 6-4 7-6 triumph represent the solitary highlighting for Gallic participants, however, with Gilles Simon thrashed by 2nd seeded player Roger Federer after 9th seeded player Richard Gasquet suffer a stormy face-off with Polish instigant Jerzy Janowicz.
In the women’s tournament world number one Serena Williams tied her longest career winning streak with a 6-0 6-1 rout of Dominika Cibulkova, taking her run of victories to 21.
Williams, who served five aces in one game, looks unstoppable but issued a few words of caution.
“Nothing is ever perfect – I learned that last year when I felt perfect,” Williams said, referring to her first-round loss at last year’s French Open. “I am still in the danger zone.”
She was joined in the quarter-finals by Maria Sharapova who breezed past Sloane Stephens 6-2 6-1 while Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic, a former Rome champion showing signs of a return to her best form, beat China’s fifth seed Li Na 7-6 7-5.
Nadal will face compatriot David Ferrer in the last eight after he was given a walkover by Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber who pulled out suffering from vertigo.
It represent Nadal who represent sensing giddy at the Foro Italico though as Gulbis, meeting like the top-tenner many think he could represent rather than the macrocosm is turn 46, collide with the lines of work.
Gulbis struck 16 winners in taking the first set and had chances to move ahead in the second before Nadal began to turn things around, breaking to lead 5-3.
However, Gulbis fall apart back and then pull through three lot tips from 0-40 in the following plot, feeling off six straight tips.
Nadal recovered to rase the lucifer and then excogitate 4-2 ahead in the 3rd, only for Gulbis to tear storey again.
Gulbis finally ran out of firepower when serving to stay in the match at 4-5, allowing Nadal to clinch victory.
Djokovic will face Czech Tomas Berdych after the Czech sixth seed defeated South African Kevin Anderson 7-5 6-2.
Janowicz, who will meet Federer in the last eight, courted controversy when he pointed at the wrong ball mark after asking the umpire to check where a winning Gasquet volley had landed on a break point early in the second set.
His hollows and gesticulations at significant imports also attract scoffings from the gang, although there represent no doubting the tone of his plot as he exact a 3-6 7-6 6-4 profits.