World number one Novak Djokovic reached the Italian Open quarter-finals for the 15th time in a row with a straight-set win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Thursday in front of spectators who were allowed to watch in the Foro Italico for the first time.
The defending champion dropped his opening serve but recovered immediately to beat the Spanish qualifier 6-2 6-1.
The previous rounds of the tournament had been held behind closed doors but on Thursday the venue welcomed back spectators with 25% capacity allowed.
“It was not good, it was great. I missed the crowd,” the five-time champion Djokovic, 33, said.
“It was nice to see them back.”
After losing his opening service game, Djokovic powered back with five breaks of serve, outclassing his rival, despite a late fightback, to seal the win on his sixth match point.
He said his performance had been “at least 20-30% better” than against American Taylor Fritz in his opening match on Tuesday when he was unhappy with the playing conditions and had been prone to errors.
Djokovic will take on fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in the semi-finals after the Greek beat Italy’s Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (7-3) 6-2.