Rome – Novak Djokovic moved into his first quarter-final of 2018 on Thursday when he defeated Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-1, 7-5 at the Italian Open.
The four-time Rome champion is making his way back this year after a six-month injury absence before the Australian Open, which was followed by elbow surgery.
And the 30-year-old showed some of his old form as he got past Ramos-Vinolas to set up a rematch with Japan's Kei Nishikori for a semi-final berth.
The 11th-seeded Serb, who has reached eight of the last ten finals in Rome, beat Nishikori in the first round in Madrid last week before falling in the second to Britain's Kyle Edmund.
Nishikori, ranked 24, needed just over an hour to see off Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-1, 6-2 at the Foro Italico.
Former world number one Djokovic has slipped six places to 18th after his second-round defeat in Madrid, his lowest ranking since October 2006.
Results from the ATP and WTA Masters tournament in Rome on Thursday (x denotes seeded player):
Simona Halep (ROU x1) bt Madison Keys (USA x13) — walkover
Maria Sharapova (RUS) bt Daria Gavrilova (AUS) 6-3, 6-4
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT x5) bt Johanna Konta (GBR) 2-6, 6-3, 6-4
Angelique Kerber (GER x11) bt Maria Sakkari (GRE) 6-1, 6-1
Elina Svitolina (UKR x4) bt Daria Kasatkina (RUS x14) 0-6, 6-3, 6-2
Anett Kontaveit (EST) bt Venus Williams (USA x8) 6-2, 7-6 (7/3)
Rafael Nadal (ESP x1) bt Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 6-4, 6-1
Fabio Fognini (ITA) bt Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 6-4, 6-4
Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP x10) bt Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-2
Marin Cilic (CRO x4) bt Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-3, 6-4
David Goffin (BEL x9) bt Juan Martin del Potro (ARG x5) 6-2, 4-5 — retired
Alexander Zverev (GER x2) bt Kyle Edmund (GBR) 7-5, 7-6 (13/11)