Nadal defeats Shapovalov to progress in Rome (photo credit: AFP)

Former world number Rafael Nadal eased past Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov with a 6-4, 6-1 win at the Italian Open on Thursday.

Nadal, 31, will next confront Italian Fabio Fognini in the last eight as he looks to retake the world number one position from Roger Federer.

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The Spaniard brushed aside Shapovalov, taking the opening set with a break in the seventh game before racing through the second to gain a measure of revenge for his shock defeat by the 19-year-old in Montreal last year.

The Canadian said, “I think Rafa played incredible today.”

“He’s been playing at a really high level for this whole clay season. So, you know, it’s credit to him. He was just simply too good today.”

“It was a solid match for me,” said Nadal. “I started with some mistakes on the return. But with my serve, I didn’t lose many points.

“At the beginning, I really think that he was serving big. I got the break in the 3-all. And then the match changed. He probably stopped to serve that big a little bit, and I was a little bit more relaxed.”