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rafael_nadal111ROME: Six-time former champion Rafael Nadal battled back from a shocking opening set to book his place in the Rome Masters quarter-finals with a 1-6 7-5 6-4 win over Ernests Gulbis this morning, reported Eurosport.

Nadal (pic) was one point away from being on the receiving end of a bagel opening set as qualifier Gulbis before stubbornly forcing his way into the match in the second set.

But the Latvian qualifier refused to go away and even broke back when it looked like Nadal had finally got the measure of his opponent with a break in the sixth game of the third set.

But serving to stay in the match proved to be beyond Gulbis, Nadal eventually securing the win at the third attempt when Gulbis went wide with a cross court backhand.

Nadal will next face compatriot David Ferrer, the fourth seeded Spaniard progressing when Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber withdrew from the tournament with vertigo.

In direct contrast, world number one Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer both made short work of their third round matches, needing just an hour each to reach the last eight.

Djokovic made short work of Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov to criuse to a 6-1 6-4 win in 60 minutes while Federer needed only two minutes more to beat Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-1 6-2 in the late match.

Djokovic, back in his stride after his shock second-round defeat to Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov in Madrid last week, had too much power and control for the 23rd-ranked Dolgopolov and brushed him aside after the day's play had been briefly delayed by rain.

The pony-tailed Dolgopolov, wearing a custard-yellow shirt, missed two chances to break Djokovic in the sixth game of the second set and surrendered the final game to 15 when the Serbian hit a forehand winner.

"That is exactly what I was looking for in my game," Djokovic told Sky television.

He refused to dwell on his Madrid defeat, when the crowd turned against him after he questioned several line calls.
"What happened on the court that night, I will forget about it," said Djokovic, who now faces Tomas Berdych after the Czech sixth seed defeated South African Kevin Anderson 7-5 6-2.

Berdych came back from a break down in the opening set on the Foro Italico clay to level at 4-4 and never looked back.

The 27-year-old Czech, though, will have to step up his game against Djokovic who has beaten him 13 times in 14 previous meetings.

Federer will next face unseeded Jerzy Janowicz, after the unseeded Pole beat came back from a set down to beat ninth-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet 3-6 7-6(2) 6-4.

But seventh seed Juan Martin Del Potro was sent crashing out of the tournament after a lacklustre performance, beaten 6-4 7-6(3) by Frenchman Benoit Paire.

Paire will next face Marcel Granollers after the Spaniard survived a second set onslaught to beat Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-4 1-6 7-5.

THIRD ROUND RESULTS

5-Rafael Nadal (Spain) beat Ernests Gulbis (Latvia) 1-6 7-5 6-4

1-Novak Djokovic (Serbia) beat Alexandr Dolgopolov (Ukraine) 6-1 6-4

2-Roger Federer (Switzerland) beat Gilles Simon (France) 6-1 6-2

6-Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) beat Kevin Anderson (South Africa) 7-5 6-2

Benoit Paire (France) beat 7-Juan Martin Del Potro (Argentina) 6-4 7-6(3)

Jerzy Janowicz (Poland) beat 9-Richard Gasquet (France) 3-6 7-6(2) 6-4

Marcel Granollers (Spain) beat Jeremy Chardy (France) 6-4 1-6 7-5

4-David Ferrer (Spain) beat Philipp Kohlschreiber (Germany) WO

Jerzy Janowicz (Poland) beat 9-Richard Gasquet (France) 3-6 7-6(2) 6-4

- mD