British number one Kyle Edmund beat Lucas Pouille in straight sets to reach the Italian Open third round with Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal also claiming wins.
By SportBrief Reporter
23-year-old Edmund, who has risen from 50th to 19th in the world this year, beat another top-20 player as he saw off France’s 6-2 7-6 (7-3) in an hour and 34 minutes.
Pouille, who is 16th in the world, was frequently overwhelmed by Edmund’s trademark forehand power. Edmund will play defending champion and second seed Alexander Zverev next.
Former world number one Novak Djokovic, two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov, US Open runner-up Kevin Anderson and David Goffin are the other top-20 players to have fallen to Edmund in 2018.
Elsewhere, top seed Rafael Nadal made an impressive start to the final pre-French Open event with a 6-1 6-0 win over Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur in Rome.
The 31-year-old, whose 21-match unbeaten run on clay ended last week, had a first-round bye and will play Denis Shapovalov or Robin Haase next.
Djokovic – who has sunk to a ranking of 18th after six defeats in his 12 tour matches this year – eased past Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4 6-2.
Japan’s Kei Nishikori – who missed most of the latter half of last season after wrist surgery – overcame third seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-4.
Nadal, who is aiming for an eighth title in the Italian capital, looked in imperious form as he saw off Dzumhur in just 61 minutes.
If the Spaniard justifies his status as favourite by lifting the trophy, he will reclaim the world number one ranking from Roger Federer after slipping to second at the start of this week.