RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Rafael Nadal won through to the quarter-finals of the clay-court event in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday, beating compatriot Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 7-5.
The troubled Mallorcan is the top seed in what is his second tennis tournament since being humbled in the first round of the Australian Open.
Beaten in the semi-finals in Buenos Aires last weekend by Dominic Thiem, Nadal found world No. 53 Almagro rather more accomodating, although he only advanced after 1hr 40min on court.
It was Nadal's 14th victory in 15 meetings with Almagro and he will face Oleksandr Dolgopolov in the next round after the Ukrainian beat another Spaniard, Inigo Cervantes-Huegun, in three sets.
The 14-time Grand Slam winner, who won the title in the Olympic host city in 2014, is joined in the next round by compatriot David Ferrer.
Seeded secomd, Ferrer overcame the loss of the opening set to beat countryman Albert Ramos 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 and set up a meeting with Thiem - the tournament winner in Buenos Aires last week - in the last eight.