SAO PAULO (AP) — Rafael Nadal beat Joao Souza 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the Brazil Open, the Spanish star’s 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 preserve the sore knee that sidelined for seven months. The 11-time Grand Slam winner, the tournament champion in 2005, had a bye in the first round.
Nadal will face Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq, a 7-6 (7), 6-4 winner over 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 beat Chilean qualifier Paul Capdeville 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-2.