Sao Paulo: Rafael Nadal beat Joao Souza of Brazil 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday to reach the quarter finals of the Brazil Open, his second tournament since returning from a left knee injury.
Nadal broke Souza’s service late in each set to win in 1 hour, 18 minutes at the indoor clay-court tournament in South America’s biggest city.
The victory over the 140th-ranked Brazilian came a day after Nadal withdrew from the doubles tournament to look after the sore knee which had kept him sidelined for seven months.
“Today I felt good,” the 26-year-old Nadal said. “It’s not perfect yet, I don’t know when I’ll be at 100 percent. It was acceptable, I’m confident that as the days and weeks go by I’ll recover what’s still missing.”
The 11-time Grand Slam winner, who had a bye in the first round and won the tournament in 2005, will face Carlos Berlocq after the Argentine won 7-6 (7), 6-4 against eighth-seeded Albert Ramos of Spain.
Nadal lost the singles and doubles final last week at the VTR Open in Vina del Mar in Chile.
Earlier in the day, defending champion Nicolas Almagro of Spain reached the quarter finals by beating Chilean qualifier Paul Capdeville 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-2.
The 11th-ranked Almagro won the last four games to stay on track for his third straight title in Sao Paulo — and fourth overall.
“Hopefully I’m on my way to winning another title here," said Almagro, who served 18 aces in a match that lasted nearly two hours. "I’ve been successful in Brazil so far and I hope it continues like this for a long time.”
The second-seeded Spaniard will face David Nalbandian, who beat Guido Pella 6-4, 6-2 in an all-Argentine match.