Rafael Nadal is the favourite to win the tournament ©InteBNLdItalia/Twitter

Tournament favourite Rafael Nadal booked his place in the quarter-finals of the Italian Open with a straight-sets victory over Canada's Denis Shapovalov at the Foro Italico in Rome.

The Spanish 16-time Grand Slam champion looked in control from the start of his match against his underdog opponent, and eventually came out on top by a convincing 6-4, 6-1 scoreline on the clay.

Nadal’s closest challenger for this tournament could be Germany's Alexander Zverev, who is seeded second.

The 21-year-old managed to beat Kyle Edmund of Great Britain, who knocked out 12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia at the recent Madrid Open, by a 7-5, 7-6 scoreline.

Elsewhere in the men's event, number five seed Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina exited the tournament as he had to retire hurt from his match against ninth seeded Belgian David Goffin.

Goffin was one set up at the time.

In the women's event, number eight seed and five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams suffered a shock loss to Estonia's Anett Kontaveit.

The 37-year-old American was never in contention in the match with Kontaveit winning by a 6-2 scoreline in the first set before defeating Williams 7-3 on a tiebreak in the second.

Fourth seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine recovered from a stunning 6-0 first set loss to Russia's Daria Kasatkina to take the match following 6-3 and 6-2 wins in the second and third sets respectively.

Number one seed Simona Halep of Romania made it through to the quarter-finals before a ball was struck as her opponent, Madison Keys of the US, had to retire hurt before she took to the court.

The event continues tomorrow.

It is a key warm-up to the French Open, the clay court Grand Slam which begins on May 27.

It is an Association of Tennis Professionals Masters 1000 tournament and a Premier 5 event on the Women's Tennis Association tour.