Novak Djokovic reached the last 16 of the Italian Open on Sunday after winning a battle with Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 4-6, 6-1, while blistering Iga Swiatek thrashed Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 6-0.
Six-time Rome champion Djokovic initially looked in improved form compared to his sluggish tournament opener against Tomas Etcheverry but again had a fight on his hands against the former world number three.
No longer wearing the elbow brace he had in Friday’s second round match, Djokovic looked to have shaken off the injury which forced him to miss last week’s Madrid Masters.
The 22-time Grand Slam title winner lost his serve in the first game of the match but broke back imme-diately and in game four broke again to tip the first set in his favour.
Djokovic served out to take the lead and in game three of the second set broke former world number three Dimitrov, who handed the initiative to the Serb with a weak backhand into the net.
Losing finalist in Madrid last weekend, Swiatek looked again in imperious form as she breezed into the last 16 of the women’s draw.
The 21-year-old is trying for her third straight Rome title and made light work of Tsurenko after a slightly bumpy start.
Swiatek lost the first two games but then rattled off 12 in a row in a powerful demonstration of why she is world number one and favourite to defend her Roland Garros title.
“I’m just trying to be consistent and trying to play my game. I treat every match as a final, I try to have the right mindset,” said Swiatek on court.
Swiatek now faces either Donna Vekic or Ljudmila Samsonova in the fourth round after extending her winning streak in the Italian capital to 13 matches.—AFP