Struggling a bit in the second round against Taylor Fritz, the five-time Rome champion Novak Djokovic played on a higher level against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina to sail into the quarters. Novak earned the 14th win of the season with a 6-2, 6-1 triumph at Foro Italico in 70 minutes, beating his sparring partner in their first official match on the Tour.
Novak looked sharp on the court, dropping 16 points in eight service games and fending off three out of four break chances to keep the pressure on the young Spaniard. Unable to find his A-game, Davidovich Fokina got broken five times from ten opportunities offered to Novak, winning only three games and finishing his run in the third round.
The Serb had 16 winners and 17 unforced errors, while the Spaniard counted to 11 winners and 30 mistakes, most from his forehand that didn't work today. Novak had a massive advantage in the shortest and mid-range rallies, placing deep returns and imposing his strokes to bring the victory home in no time and advance into the last eight.
Djokovic got broken in the first game and quickly regrouped to level the score at 1-1 and avoid an early setback.
Novak Djokovic raced past Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in their first encounter.
Both players served well in the next three games, and Djokovic grabbed another break when his rival sprayed a forehand error in game six.
The Serb cemented the advantage with a service winner a few minutes later and secured a break at 15 in game eight for 6-2 in no time. Alejandro wasted two break chances at the beginning of the second set and lost serve after sending a backhand wild in the next one.
Novak held at 30 thanks to a lucky net cord winner in game three, sailing towards the finish line in those moments. Losing ground completely, Davidovich Fokina netted a backhand right after the serve in the fourth game to experience another break and fall 4-0 behind before Djokovic held at love with an ace to forge a 5-0 advantage.
The Spaniard saved three match points in game six to avoid a bagel and extend the clash, fending off two more on Novak's serve and creating a break chance. Djokovic saved it and seized the sixth match point with another great drop shot that pushed him into the next round.