Barcelona - Rafa Nadal overcame another hurdle on his way to a possible eighth
Barcelona Open title in nine years when he recovered from a poor start
to beat Benoit Paire 7-6 6-2 in their delayed third-round match on
Nadal had been set to meet the 13th-seeded Frenchman on
Thursday before rain washed out the day's play and he is due to play his
quarter-final against Japanese sixth seed Kei Nishikori or unseeded
Spanish compatriot Albert Ramos later on Friday. However, more rain is
forecast in the Catalan capital.
Paire, who turns 24 next month
and had never played Nadal before, began aggressively on the clay at the
Real Club de Tenis and broke the world number five in the opening game.
had the usual strapping on his troublesome left knee but showed no sign
of the injury that sidelined him for seven months before his return in
February, breaking back before taking the tiebreak 7-2.
breaks in the fifth and seventh games of the second set secured victory
for the 26-year-old Majorcan and extended his winning streak at the
tournament to 36 matches.
"It wasn't brilliant but getting the
victory was the most important thing," Nadal said in an interview with
Spanish television broadcaster TVE.
"Today is going to be a long day and it was good to win in two sets after a bad start," he added.
are taking things step by step and this afternoon's opponent is going
to be at a very high level so let's see if I can play better than this
Nadal is on course to meet Tomas Berdych in the
semi-finals. The Czech third seed plays his third-round match against
unseeded Spaniard Tommy Robredo later on Friday.
Top seed and
world number four David Ferrer, another Spaniard whom Nadal beat in the
final in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012, lost to Russian qualifier Dmitry
Tursunov in the second round on Wednesday.