Tennis: Nadal safely into Hamburg quarter-finals

HAMBURG (AFP) - Rafael Nadal eased into the Hamburg Open quarter-finals Thursday with a 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) win over Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic as the Spaniard continues to try and resuscitate his flagging season.

The top-seeded Mallorcan, playing the summer clay-court tournament for the first time in seven years, goes on to face fifth-seeded Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas, who battled past Jerzy Janowicz of Poland 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

Nadal, the 2008 champion in Hamburg, extended his clay record in 2015 to 23-6 as he looks to add to his 46 clay-court titles.

"I think I played a good match," said the 29-year-old. "Something that I am proud of today, very happy with, is my attitude and I'm very happy with the way that I played. I just need a little bit more consistency."

Nadal has endured a tough year, losing his French Open title, getting knocked out in the second round at Wimbledon and seeing his ranking slump to 10, his lowest in a decade.

Cuevas, a semi-finalist in Hamburg in 2009, notched his 23rd win of the season as he defeated Janowicz in one hour and 34 minutes.

Twenty of Cuevas' victories in 2015 have come on clay. It will be the second meeting of the season for Nadal and Cuevas after the Spaniard won in three sets in February in Rio.

"He's one of the best players of the world, especially on clay," Nadal said of Cuevas. "It's a big match and I know I have to play well if I want to be in that semi-finals. I'm going to fight for it."

Fourth seed Andreas Seppi beat German wild card Florian Mayer 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 and next faces Italian compatriot Simone Bolelli, who earned a 6-1, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4 win over Spain's Jaume Munar.