Rafael Nadal eases past Isner into Rome last 16

ROME: Rafael Nadal eased into the last 16 of the Italian Open on Wednesday with a straightforward 6-3, 6-1 win over John Isner, while Alexander Zverev beat Sebastian Baez. Third seed Nadal made short work of Isner as he bids for an 11th title in Rome, the King of Clay seeing off his American opponent in one hour and 17 minutes under blazing sunshine at the Foro Italico.

A quarter-final loser to countryman Carlos Alcaraz in Madrid, Nadal can profit from the thrilling teenager’s absence in the Italian capital to win the last big clay event before the French Open later this month. Isner’s resistance against the 21-time Grand Slam winner lasted until game eight, when Nadal broke the veteran world number 27 before serving out to take the first set.

From there Nadal cruised to victory, dropping just 14 points on his way to setting up a third round clash with Denis Shapovalov. Earlier Zverev got through with a straight-sets 7-6 (8/6), 6-3 win over Baez in just over an hour and a half. Second seed Zverev, soundly beaten by Alcaraz in the Madrid final at the weekend, will face one of Tommy Paul or Alex de Minaur.

A gruelling first set went with the serve right until the fourth point of the tie-break, when German world number three Zverev took a 3-1 lead. Baez fought back to 6-6 but Zverez broke the Argentine before serving out the set and making sure of his passage into round three in a less complicated second set.