BARCELONA, Spain — Rafael Nadal beat Kei Nishikori 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 to advance to the quarterfinals of the Barcelona Open.
The 11-time tournament champion looked ready to roll to a quick victory after dominating the first set, but Nishikori responded with some fine net play to level it at 1-1.
Nadal broke Nishikori twice in the decisive set, converting his second match point by driving a forehand winner down the line.
The top-seeded Nadal is still searching for his best tennis after being upset in the Monte Carlo quarterfinals by Andrey Rublev. He needed three sets to beat 111th-ranked Ilya Ivashka of Belarus in his first match in Barcelona on Wednesday.
“I didn’t play a lot last year so I know that I will struggle,” Nadal said. “I have been improving and I’m on the right path. I know the process. It doesn’t happen overnight.”
Nadal will face Britain’s Cameron Norrie next. Norrie advanced after David Goffin retired in the second set of their match due to injury.
Nishikori won the outdoor clay-court tournament in 2014 and 2015 when Nadal was battling injuries.
Second-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Alex de Minaur 7-5, 6-3, while Rublev got past Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-4.
The tournament was not held last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
PARIS — A thrilling five-set victory took a toll on Gael Monfils, whose withdrawal from the French Open handed No. 6 Holger Rune a walkover to the third round.
The 36-year-old Frenchman said he has a strained left wrist and can’t continue.
He battled Sebastian Baez for nearly four hours on Court Philippe Chatrier before beating the Argentine 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 in a first-round match that ended at 12:18 a.m. local time.
The victory was Monfils’ first at tour level this year, as the veteran was coming back from heel surgery.
“Actually, physically, I’m quite fine. But I had the problem with my wrist that I cannot solve,” he said. “The doctor say was not good to play with that type of injury. Yesterday was actually very risky, and then today definitely say I should stop.”
Monfils reached the semifinals at the French Open in 2008 and made it to the quarterfinals on three other occasions.
PARIS — Swedish tennis player Mikael Ymer was docked about $40,000 after being disqualified for smashing his racket against the umpire’s chair at a tournament the week before he competed at the French Open.
An ATP Tour spokesman said Ymer forfeited about $10,500 in prize money and 20 rankings he earned for reaching the second round of the Lyon Open. Ymer also was handed an on-site fine of about $29,000.
The spokesman said the ATP Fines Committee will conduct a review of what happened to determine whether any additional penalties are warranted.
The 56th-ranked Ymer, who is 24 and owns a victory over current No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, was defaulted in Lyon for an outburst late in the first set against French teenager Arthur Fils last week.
Ymer was upset that the chair umpire would not check a ball mark after a shot by Fils landed near a line. As the players went to the sideline for the ensuing changeover, Ymer smacked the base of the umpire’s stand with his racket twice – destroying his equipment and damaging the chair.
That led to Ymer’s disqualification, making Fils the winner of the match.
After his 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 loss to 17th-seeded Lorenzo Musetti in the first round at Roland Garros, Ymer was asked whether he wanted to explain why he reacted the way he did in Lyon.
“With all due respect, I think it’s pretty clear from the video what caused it and why I reacted the way I reacted. Not justifying it at all, of course,” Ymer replied. “But for me to sit here and to explain? I think it’s pretty clear what led me to that place. I think that’s pretty clear in the video.”