World No. 1 Rafael Nadal breezed into the quarter-finals of the US$1.3 million ATP Rio Open on Thursday, but admitted afterwards that he was still feeling the effects of a back injury.
Nadal, in his first event since losing last month’s Australian Open final, needed only 74 minutes to rout Spanish compatriot Albert Montanes 6-1, 6-2 and book a date against Portugal’s 48th-ranked Joao Sousa, who eliminated 87th-rated Spaniard Albert Ramos 7-6 (8/6), 2-6, 6-3.
Nadal broke Montanes three times in each set and won the final four games of the match as he improved to 3-0 all-time against his countryman, having yet to lose more than three games in any set against him.
In other games, Oleksandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine beat Argentina’s Facundo Bagnis 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 7-6 (7/4), while Fabio Fognini of Italy beat Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 7-6 (7/1), 4-6, 6-3.
DELRAY BEACH OPEN
AFP, DELRAY BEACH, Florida
US second seed John Isner won the last five points of a third-set tie-breaker on Thursday to reach the ATP Delray Beach Open quarter-finals, while a left-hip injury derailed third-seeded Kei Nishikori, who had to withdraw.
Isner, playing his first event since a right-ankle injury forced him to retire from his first match at the Australian Open, rallied to down Israel’s Dudi Sela 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7/5).
Into the last eight at Delray for the third year in a row, Isner is next to face US qualifier Rhyne Williams, who eliminated Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 6-7 (7/9), 6-4, 6-2.
Gabashvili, seeking his first title at the US$474,000 event, advanced to a quarter-final against Croatian seventh seed Marin Cilic, who eliminated the US’ Ryan Harrison 6-3, 6-4 in 74 minutes.
AP, MARSEILLE, France
Third-seeded Ernests Gulbis of Latvia reached the Open 13 quarter-finals on Thursday after a hard-fought 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 win against Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain, while fourth-seeded Andreas Seppi of Italy lost 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 to Michael Llodra of France.
Gulbis had 23 aces, but needed more than two hours to win, while Seppi dropped his serve twice against Llodra, who had 14 aces.
Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff also secured an upset, beating seventh-seeded Julien Benneteau 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.
Fifth-seeded Ivan Dodig of Croatia, No. 6 Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France and No. 8 Nicolas Mahut of France progressed.
Dodig beat Germany’s Tobias Kamke 6-7 (7/4), 6-0, 6-3, Roger-Vasselin advanced with a 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 win against Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine, and Mahut won 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 against Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania.