Rome: World number two Novak Djokovic battled into the Rome Masters quarter-finals with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Thomaz Bellucci that was harder than the score suggests.
Djokovic, the 2008 champion, had to come from a break down in each set against the Brazilian, who put up a lively display but at times had trouble keeping his big serve under control.
The Serb will be comforted by the ability he showed to raise his game when required before meeting in-form Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, who thrashed him in the semi-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters two weeks ago.
Verdasco, fresh from his triumph at last week`s Barcelona Open, booked his place in the last eight with a 6-4, 7-6 win over his compatriot Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
Holder Rafael Nadal is aiming to continue his strong form later on Thursday against Romanian Victor Hanescu in the third round.