Nadal races into Rome quarter-finals

Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Nikoloz Basilashvili at the Italian Open. (AFP pic)

ROME: Defending champion Rafael Nadal lost just two games in two matches before booking his place in the quarter-finals of the Italian Open on Thursday.

The eight-time Rome champion beat Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-1, 6-0 in the third round after earlier crushing France’s Jeremy Chardy 6-0, 6-1 in the second round, playing two matches after Wednesday’s rain washout in Rome.

Nadal next plays fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco who defeated 11th-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.

The 32-year-old Nadal is bidding for his first clay-court title this season before chasing a 12th French Open crown at Roland Garros starting on May 26.