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Edmund beats Pouille to reach last 16 in Rome

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Kyle Edmund

British number one Kyle Edmund beat another top-20 player as he saw off France’s Lucas Pouille in straight sets to reach the Italian Open third round.

The 23-year-old, who has risen from 50th to 19th in the world this year, came through 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.

The German has won more matches than anyone else on tour this season, but will be wary of Edmund considering the calibre of opponents he has beaten this season.

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.

Fabio Fognini was roared to victory by a partisan Italian crowd as he upset sixth seed Dominic Thiem.

Rafael Nadal

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.

Fabio Fognini

Fognini’s victory was far less straightforward, but the 30-year-old eventually prevailed 6-4 1-6 6-3 against last year’s semi-finalist.

“It was a good match, actually, from both of us,” said Austrian Thiem.

“It was a very intense fight, basically from the beginning to the end. So I’m disappointed that I lost, obviously. But game-wise, I’m not really disappointed.”

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BBC Sport – Tennis

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