Defending champion Novak Djokovic reached his 17th consecutive Italian Open quarter-final with a tense victory over British number one Cameron Norrie.
The Serb, who will be replaced as world number one by Carlos Alcaraz next week, won 6-3 6-4 in Rome.
The mood in a wayward encounter soured in the second set when Norrie smashed a header in the ankle from Djokovic, who had already given up the point.
Djokovic will next face seventh seed Holger Rune or qualifier Alexei Popyrin.
The Serbian’s preparation for the French Open has been disrupted by injury, but he’s regaining form in time for his bid for a 23rd Grand Slam singles title which begins on May 28.
After delaying the start of the match by a few minutes while in the treatment room, Djokovic then wasted no time to take a 3-0 lead – and wasn’t even held up by a collision early with the clock next to the court.
While Norrie slowed Djokovic’s charge with a few holds and saved three set points – one with a searing backhand return of serve – he couldn’t do anything on the fourth as Djokovic finished the first set.
The Briton broke down at the start of the second, then immediately fell back – but controversially.
Djokovic had already given up the point when he hit high to leave Norrie with open ground to put the ball in and was walking away with his back turned when Norrie fired his smash into Djokovic’s left ankle.
Norrie gave a brief “sorry” and raised his hand in apology, earning whistles from the crowd and a huge look from a clearly annoyed Djokovic.
With chilly conditions and an even more icy vibe on the pitch, Djokovic continued to love each other for 5-4.
After being made to wait at the start of the match, it was then Norrie’s turn to keep Djokovic waiting as he received on-court treatment on his hip while the Serb prepared to serve for the match.
Djokovic didn’t let the delay disrupt his flow as he sealed victory on his second match point to stay on track for a seventh Italian Open title, with the pair exchanging a tight handshake and no word on the net.