Cape Town - Rafael Nadal is through to the quarter-finals of the China Open after defeating Adrian Mannarino in straight sets.
The 6-1, 7-6 (8-6) scoreline tells the story of the match, as Nadal raced through the first set only to be given a much sterner test in the second.
Nadal looked to be cruising after going a set and a break up, but Mannarino hit back with a break of his own to level the scores at 3-3 and then matched the Spaniard shot for shot before Nadal was finally able to clinch the victory after coming out on top in a fiercely contested tie-breaker.
“I think I played a fantastic first set. Great level of tennis, serving very good, hitting so good. During the second set, I slowed the rhythm a little bit and he played very well,” said Nadal.
“I feel very happy that I won that tie-break. I think I played with the right amount of determination in the tie-break. It’s very important for my confidence to pass through these tough moments.”
Nadal is looking to secure qualification for the ATP World Tour Finals as the season draws to a close. He currently lies in the eighth and final automatic qualification spot, and a victory this week will provide a welcome boost.
Next up for the Spaniard is Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Lucas Pouille 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (7-0), 6-4 in a hard-fought two-and-a-half-hour encounter.
“He’s a great player that is playing well. He’s one of the players on tour with high potential,” said Nadal. “I know I have to play my best tennis to win against him, so I’m trying to focus on that.”