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Novak Djokovic maintains impressive run at Italian Open

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The Spanish fourth seed, fresh from victory in a Madrid Masters triumph that saw him cruise past Serbian nemesis Novak Djokovic in the semis, will meet American Jack Sock in his third-round match later.

The four-time champion edged past local player Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets (6-4, 6-4) in his R16 match yesterday to continue his quest to hit peak form after parting ways with his coaching team last month.

He will next play Juan Martin del Potro, who ousted seventh-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan 7-6 (4), 6-3.

"I thought I played pretty well out there", said Isner, who is ranked 24th.

"Mentally I felt better and better as time went by".

Djokovic, a beaten finalist here a year ago, held his serve throughout the opening set and earned the only break in the seventh game to ease into a convincing lead.

In a shock to Maria Sharapova, the French tennis federation refused to grant the five-time Grand Slam victor and twice Roland Garros champion a wild card to either the main draw or qualifying. I can play a bit more aggressive than the way I played tonight, but overall I'm happy. "What I know for sure is that I'm doing my very best to rediscover myself in a new way and get the new strength and the new skin, so to speak", he explained.

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Nick Ritchie got the game-winning goal late in the period and Antione Vermette scored an insurance goal in the third. John Gibson has given up 34 goals on 382 shots faced and Jonathan Bernier has allowed four goals on 45 shots.

Meanwhile, unseeded American John Isner battled into the Rome Masters semis with a 7-6 (7/3), 2-6, 7-6 (7/2) win over Croatian sixth seed Marin Cilic. All the players are aiming to raise their level of tennis as we're approaching Paris, but especially here in Rome at one of the biggest and best tournaments in the world.

The Austrian recovered from losing the first set to beat Querrey 3-6 6-3 7-6 (9-7), saving three match points before finally coming out on top in a thrilling tie-break.

In the women's draw, Venus Williams beat Johanna Konta 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.

"It's so different when you're talking about it or when you're playing it", she said.

Fifth seed Milos Raonic overcame Tomas Berdych 6-3 6-2 and will face Alexander Zverev, a 6-3 6-3 victor over Andy Murray's conqueror Fabio Fognini, in the last eight.

Russian Federation s Svetlana Kuznetsova, the seventh seed, suffered a 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 defeat to Australian qualifier Daria Gavrilova.

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