RIO DE JANEIRO: Rafael Nadal made it to the quarter-finals of the clay-court Rio de Janeiro Open on Thursday by beating compatriot Nicolas Almagro in straight sets 6-3, 7-5.
The troubled Mallorcan is the top seed in what is his second tournament since being humbled in the first round of the Australian Open, when he was defeated by Fernando Verdasco.
Beaten in the semi-finals in Buenos Aires last weekend by Dominic Thiem, Nadal found world number 53 Almagro rather more accommodating, although he only managed to advance after one hour, 40 minutes on court.
It was Nadal’s 14th victory in 15 meetings against Almagro and he will face Alexandr Dolgopolov in the next round after the Ukrainian beat another Spaniard, Inigo Cervantes-Huegun, in three sets.
The 14-time major winner — who won the title in the Olympic host city two years ago back in 2014 — is joined in the next round by compatriot David Ferrer.
Seeded second, Ferrer overcame the loss of the opening set to beat fellow countryman Albert Ramos 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 and set up a meeting with Thiem — the tournament winner in Buenos Aires last week — in the last eight.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2016.