Nadal, Thiem meet again in Italian Open quarters

The Spaniard, a seven-time champion in Rome, swept Djokovic aside in the semi-finals of the Madrid Masters last week before going on to secure the title.

With a potential semi-final meeting with Rafael Nadal on the cards, the Serb will be determined to storm past Del Potro, who had forced a decider in their last two meetings this year.

The four-time champion edged past local player Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets (6-4, 6-4) in his R16 match yesterday to continue his quest to hit peak form after parting ways with his coaching team last month.

And he will get the chance in the quarter-finals when he faces Argentina's in-form Juan Martin del Potro, who was an impressive 7-6 (7/4) 6-3 victor over seventh seed Kei Nishikori.

"I thought I played pretty well out there", said Isner, who is ranked 24th.

Djokovic was moving around the court more freely than he has been for much of this season, breaking to lead 4-3 when Bautista Agut netted a backhand and wrapping up the opening set after saving a first break point in the next game. "But it's obvious that I am playing well and I should be very happy with the way that I am doing things".

"I played a more aggressive game and I m serving better".

Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic on Monday said he remains as motivated as ever to reclaim his old position at top of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) rankings, although he has not played his best match this year.

Thiem saved three match points in beating Sam Querrey 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (9/7).

In other results, Marin Cilic of Croatia beat David Goffin Belgium 6-3, 6-4; Milos Raonic of Canada overcame Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-2 while John Isner (USA) shocked third seed Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland 7-6 (1), 6-4.

"It s coming at the right time, we re getting closer to Roland Garros". "I went out there with the belief that, if I played well and executed my game plan, that I could walk off that court with a win".

Alexander Zverev, the 16th-seed German, reached the quarterfinals by eliminating Italian favorite Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-3.

Zverev, the 16th seed who is the youngest player in the ATP top 50, will meet the victor of the clash between Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic, to be played later Thursday.