ROME (AFP) – Roger Federer saved two match points against Borna Coric to advance to the quarterfinals of the Italian Open on Thursday as defending champion Rafael Nadal and top seed Novak Djokovic raced through in straight sets.
However, Australian firebrand Nick Kyrgios was disqualified after a foul-mouthed rant during his third-round match against Norway’s Casper Ruud which could land him with a lengthy suspension.
Federer came through 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (9/7) against 13th seed Coric after earlier beating Portugal’s Joao Sousa, 6-4, 6-3, in the second round as players doubled up after rain wiped out play on Wednesday.
Federer, a four-time finalist in Rome, trailed 0-4 before dropping the first set, coming back in the second and saving two match points in the third set tie-break.
Federer next plays Greek eighth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Monte Carlo Masters champion Fabio Fognini, 6-4, 6-3.
Tsitsipas shocked Federer in the fourth round at the Australian Open in January.
Nadal, meanwhile, dropped just two games throughout the day, dispatching Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, 6-1, 6-0, in the third round after earlier also dropping just one game against France’s Jeremy Chardy.
Djokovic, winner in Madrid last Sunday, beat German Philipp Kohlschreiber, 6-3, 6-0, after earlier easing past Canadian Denis Shapovalov, 6-1, 6-3.
The four-time Italian Open winner next plays Argentine seventh seed Juan Martin Del Potro for a place in the semi-finals.
In the women’s event, Japan’s Naomi Osaka, the top seed, also won twice to retain the world number one ranking ahead of the start of the French Open.
She eased into the last eight with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Mihaela Buzarnescu after earlier beating Slovak Dominika Cibulkova by the same scoreline.
Osaka was at risk of losing her world number one ranking to Simona Halep but the Romanian was knocked out by Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova losing 2-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Halep’s defeat also guarantees Osaka’s top seeding at the French Open.
Kyrgios’s tournament finished early after he threw a chair across court in a tantrum, before storming off and being disqualified.
The controversial 24-year-old, who had marked his presence in Rome by criticising Djokovic and Nadal in an interview on Wednesday, started arguing with the umpire in the third set.
World number 36 Kyrgios had levelled the match at one set all but was given a game penalty early on in the third set for swearing.