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Nadal into Barcelona Open quarter-finals
By Joseph Wilson
22:39 AEST Fri Apr 26 2013

Seven-times winner Rafael Nadal has advanced to the quarter-finals of the Barcelona Open by beating Frenchman Benoit Paire 7-6 (7-2) 6-2.

Paire broke Nadal's first service game on Friday but, when the fifth-ranked Spaniard found his rhythm, he had little trouble extending his winning streak on the Real Club de Tenis' red clay to 36 straight matches.

The match was originally scheduled for Thursday but was postponed due to rain.

If the weather holds up, Nadal will play Albert Ramos later on Friday in the quarter-finals. The fellow Spaniard defeated Japanese sixth seed Kei Nishikori 6-4 7-6 (7-4)

German Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Slovak Martin Klizan 1-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-5) after their third-round match was postponed on Thursday because of rain with Klizan leading 4-3 in the third set.

Playing two matches in the same day should be a good test for Nadal to see how far he has improved since returning in February from a nagging case of tendinitis in his left knee that had sidelined him since June.

Nadal reached five straight finals heading into Barcelona, but his loss to Novak Djokovic last weekend that ended his eight-year winning run at Monte Carlo asked questions of whether he is ready to compete for the much more gruelling French Open next month.

"We'll see how the day goes. For the moment, I've done the important thing which is to win the first match," Nadal said.

"I'm taking it step-by-step. Let's see if I can play better in the second match."

Nadal had a sluggish start and Paire hit a winner off one of his second serves to get the early advantage.

After squandering three break points in Paire's first service game, Nadal broke back to pull level at 3-3 with a series of defensive slices that Paire eventually sent long.

Nadal's steady ground game forced Paire to make three errors in the tiebreaker and cede the first set.

Nadal took control of the second set when he broke Paire from love to go ahead 3-2 after the Frenchman's serve suddenly failed him and he hit consecutive double-faults.

Paire had a chance to break back in the next game but hit long and then slammed his racquet into the ground. Nadal went on to take the game and sealed the match when Paire's final drop shot fell well short.

Nadal last lost at the Barcelona Open 10 years ago.


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