Rome Masters Djokovic starts with Rome win, Sharapova snubbed

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ROME (AP) - Rafael Nadal's preparations for the French Open continued apace as he swept past 13th-seeded Jack Sock 6-3, 6-4 Thursday to ease into the Italian Open quarterfinals and extend his winning streak to 17 matches.

On the other hand, Djokovic can not afford to lose early in Rome as he in racing in time to hit peak form ahead of his title defence at Roland Garros. "Dominic is the player that is having probably more success now on clay, no?"

The Serbian served first and was unable to hold but, despite a stumble causing him to change racket in game two, he hit straight back to take the early pressure off. I can play a bit more aggressive than the way I played tonight, but overall I'm happy.

The eighth-seeded Austrian was forced to save three match points before battling to a 3-6 6-3 7-6 (9/7) win over another American, Sam Querrey.

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On the other hand, Del Potro, who skipped the early-season action in Australia, stunned seventh seed Kei Nishikori 7-6 (4), 6-3 to claim a win against a top-10 opponent for the first time since his victory over Tomas Berdych at 2012 French Open.

The Serb has struggled for form this year and recently split with his entire coaching staff but his game looked in good order against Bedene on Court Centrale in Rome.

"When you lack confidence and rhythm, against opponents like (Benoit) Paire and Isner, it's not ideal", said Wawrinka, who had beaten Frenchman Paire 6-3, 6-4 on Wednesday.

Third seed Stan Wawrinka became the latest high-profile casualty at the Italian Open on Thursday when the Swiss was knocked out in the third round by American John Isner. "But I ll keep fighting".

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Isner, meeting Wawrinka for the first time in six years, will now face Marin Cilic after the sixth seed from Croatia beat Belgian David Goffin, the ninth seed, 6-3, 6-4.

British fifth seed Johanna Konta reached the third round with a crushing 6-3, 6-0 win over Yulia Putintseva.

Williams, competing in Rome because "I still have a lot to give", was more circumspect about her chances of emulating Serena by winning Roland Garros.

"I thought I played pretty well out there", said Isner, who is ranked 24th. "There is not even one point that is given".

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Gavrilova will meet Dutch 15th seed Kiki Bertens after she beat unseeded Russian Ekaterina Makarova 7-6 (7/3), 6-1.

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