Novak Djokovic continued his Italian Open title defense with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 win over the 26th seed Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov while female champion Iga Swiatek distributed another “bagel” when they defeated Ukraine Lesia Tsurenko.
Djokovic, who will lose his world No. 1 ranking at the end of the Masters 1000 tournament to Carlos Alcaraz, overcame a slow start and a late comeback attempt from familiar opponent Dimitrov to cross the line in their third-round encounter.
Both players broke serve early in the first set before Djokovic upped his game to take a 4-1 lead, and an 11th win over Dimitrov in 12 meetings began to look inevitable.
Dimitrov, whose only win over the Serb world number 1 came 10 years ago in Madrid, managed tight control but couldn’t stop his opponent from running away with the first set and taking the lead in the next.
However, the former world number 3 turned four straight games at 2-4 to take the second set and force a decider. But Djokovic responded strongly and let out a roar after securing a double break in the third set and held his own this time to advance.
Two-time defending champion Swiatek earlier lost the first two games of her third-round clash with Tsurenko. But the world No.1 struck back to claim the next 12 for a 6-2, 6-0 win that extended her winning streak in Rome to 13 matches.
The Polish top seed has looked in ominous form at the Foro Italico after defeating former French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-0 6-0 and will continue her preparation for Roland Garros with a clash against Liudmila Samsonova o Donna Vekic.
Former runner-up in Paris Marketa Vondrousova knocked out ninth seed Greek Maria Sakkari 7-5 6-3 and will have another chance to continue her giant-killing streak in Rome when she takes on either Elena Rybakina or Anna Kalinskaya in the round of 16.
sixth seed Coco Gauff later crashed into Maria Bouzkovawhich sealed a 4-6 6-2 6-2 win.
daniel medvedev broke his Rome duck on his fourth try with a clinical second-round victory over Emil Ruusuvuori.
“It’s a bit (of relief),” Medvedev said after their 6-4 6-2 victory. “Every time I come to a tournament, I know I can play well, so I’m happy to finally get the win here in Rome.”
Last year’s runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas he also reached the third round, needing just five minutes to win the two games needed to complete a 6-3, 6-3 victory after the contest was called off on Saturday due to rain.
seventh seed Rune Holger was equally impressive in their 6-4 6-2 win over home favorite Fabio Fognini and will meet Alexei popyrin in the fourth round after the Australian had beaten Roman Safiullin 7-5 7-5.