Rafael Nadal expects a “tough” quarter-final when he faces Fabio Fognini in the Italian Open today at around 11am.
The Spaniard overcame exciting Canadian youngster Denis Shapovalov in the last 16 yesterday (Thursday).
It was a major boost for the Spaniard, whose bid to defend his title on home soil came unstuck when he was knocked out by Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals.
That defeat meant that Nadal lost top spot in the ceding to the veteran Roger Federer but he is now into the last eight of the Italian Open, where he meets the home favourite.
Nadal is a a seven-time champion in Rome but he has lost in the quarter-finals in all of the last three years.
"It was a tough first set," Nadal said after beating Shapovalov.
"I'm happy for the victory against a difficult opponent and looking forward to the quarter-final.
"[Fognini] is a tough player and I'm looking forward to the challenge."
On Madrid, he said: “It’s always difficult. It’s the most special event in our clay-court season. In terms of conditions it’s the most different one.
“Dominic had a great opponent, Fabio is a great player with great talent.
“When he’s playing well, he’s able to win against everyone. Fabio played a great match.”
The WTA Internationali BNL D'Italia at the Foro Italico in Rome is live on BT Sport 1 & 3 from Monday 14 May to Saturday 20 May.
Images: Getty Images
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