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Nadal crushes Isner to reach last-16 at Rome Masters

Rafael Nadal beat John Isner to reach the last-16 at the Rome Masters where he is seeking a record-extedning 11th title. © Pierre René-Worms / RFI

Defending champion Rafael Nadal maintained his quest for a record-extending 11th Rome Masters title on Wednesday with a straight sets demolition of the big-serving American John Isner.

Nadal, 35, dispatched his fellow veteran 6-3, 6-1 in 76 minutes to set up a last-16 showdown with the 13th seed Denis Shapovalov.

In his last-16 match at the 2021 tournament with the Canadian, Nadal saved two match points before prevailing.

And the Spaniard needed the same grit in his second round match on centre court at the Foro Italico.

At 3-3 in the first set, 37-year-old Isner had two separate chances to claim Nadal's serve. But he fluffed both opportunities.

"He had two not so difficult balls so I was in his hands at that moment," said Nadal of the break points. "I was lucky that he missed those shots and then I was able to break."

"Then the match changed, of course. With the first set on the board, and having the break in the first game of the second set, everything changed.”

Isner, increasingly powerless trying to combat Nadal's vicious top spin, was swept aside.

"I finished better than how I started, without a doubt," said Nadal.

Elsewhere, Second seed Alexander Zverev moved into the last-16 also in straight sets. The 24-year-old German dispatched the 2022 Estoril Open champion 7-6, 6-3 to advance to a showdown with Alex de Minaur from Australia.

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