Rafael Nadal remains on track for a seventh Italian Open title after recovering from a huge first- set loss to beat Latvian Ernest Gulbis.
The 26- year- old Spaniard defeated Gulbis 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 to reach the quarter- finals at Rome’s Foro Italico.
Nadal will next face compatriot and fourth- seed David Ferrer.
“I survived a tough match today,” Nadal said after the game.
“Now I have another chance to try and go farther. Being in the quarter- finals is fantastic. I’m more than pleased with what I’ve done since I returned.”
Meanwhile, the likes of Roger Federer (2nd- seed), Novak Djokovic (1st- seed), Serena Williams (1st- seed), and Maria Sharapova (2nd- seed) all cruised to victory against their various opponents.
After returning from a seven month’s knee injury in February, Nadal has won five titles and reached seven finals.
“I really don’t want to talk about my knee,” the world No. 5 said. I’m fine. I fought a lot to be where I am today.
“These matches like today, where you’re in trouble all the time but you keep fighting for every ball, these victory means a lot. To have another one like this is very special.”
Top seed Djokovic, who has also had his own peculiar injury worries over his ankle pains and going for his third Rome title, saw off Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-1, 6-4.
“I’ve been pain- free for a week but I’m still very cautious in my warm- up and recovery,” the Serb said. “I don’t think it will bother me anymore and I don’t think about it when I’m on the court.”
Second- seed Federer thrashed Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-1, 6-2, to set up a meeting with Pole, Jerzy Janowicz, who knocked out ninth- seed Richard Gasquet 3-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4.
World number one Williams thrashed Slovakia’s 14th- seed Dominika Cibulkova 6-0, 6-1, to take her winning streak to 21 matches, however, last year’s first- round loss was her motivation.
“Nothing is ever perfect,” Williams noted. “I learned that last year when I felt perfect. I am still in the danger zone.”
Second- seed Sharapova, going for a hat- trick of titles in Rome, also, cruised past another American Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-1, while third- seed Victoria Azarenka progressed when Ayumi Morita retired.