Nishikori reaches Barca semis

Nadal delighted with improvement on clay from Madrid to Rome during Tsitsipas win

The defending champion dropped the second set against the Spaniard but regained command in ruthless fashion to close out a 6-2 3-6 6-1 victory.

Rafael Nadal’s surprise third-round exit means the top seed’s task is less challenging and he continues to bolster his reputation as a strong contender on clay.

After seizing the first set with little resistance, Nishikori was forced on the back foot in the second set and surrendered a break with a forehand into the ??net.

Bautista Agut battled hard to retain his lead, saving three break points before he levelled the match with a booming serve.

But the Spaniard could not keep the Japanese player at bay for much longer and sent a forehand wide to gift a 3-1 lead.??

Nishikori quickened his progress with further breaks and will await the winner of Tommy Robredo’s quarter-final clash with Martin Klizan.