Paris: Rafael Nadal battled into the Paris Masters quarterfinals on Thursday with a 6-1, 7-6 (7/3) win over Australian Jordan Thompson at Bercy Arena.
World number 61 Thompson gave Nadal plenty to think about, but missed a set point to force a decider in his first meeting with the 20-time Grand Slam champion.
Top seed Nadal, who claimed his 1,000th career victory by coming from behind to beat Feliciano Lopez on Wednesday, has never won the Paris title.
Playing in his first tournament since taking a record-extending 13th French Open crown across the French capital at Roland Garros last month, Nadal will face fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta for a semifinal spot.
Carreno Busta, who has reached the US Open semifinals and French Open quarters this year, needs to win the title this week to have any chance of snatching the last ATP Tour Finals spot from Diego Schwartzman.
“It’ll be a tough one, he has been playing very well,” said Nadal. “But we’re in the quarterfinals of a Masters 1,000 so you can’t expect any other thing.”
Nadal raced through the opener against Thompson in just 31 minutes, breaking twice and sealing it on his fourth set point after a brief stutter from 40-0 up in the seventh game.
Thompson put up more of a fight in the second set, but missed a set point when 6-5 ahead as Hawkeye showed a Nadal backhand had landed on the baseline.
The world number two held his serve and upped his game in the tie-break to secure victory.
Nadal has still never failed to reach the quarterfinals at Bercy in his eight appearances despite only making the final once, when he lost to David Nalbandian in 2007.
He is bidding to equal Novak Djokovic’s record of 36 Masters titles this week.
Uncle Toni joins
Toni Nadal, uncle and former coach of 20-times Grand Slam tennis champion Rafael Nadal, could be in line for a place on the board of Barcelona after announcing on Friday he has joined the team of presidential candidate Victor Font.
Font is the favourite to win the upcoming election, which will take place no later then next March but could be held earlier after Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned as president last month in order to avoid a vote of no confidence.
If Font wins the presidency, Nadal will be in charge of institutional relations and will lead a new department created to promote good behaviour among youth players.
“I’m excited and I hope to contribute to ensuring Barcelona remains the biggest club in the world and the top representative of Catalonia,” Nadal said at a presentation on Friday.
“I want to create a model in which all players, from youth level up, learn not just to play football but how to represent an institution which is second only to the regional government of Catalonia, and that brings with it a big commitment.”
Toni’s brother Miguel Angel Nadal made more than 200 appearances for Barcelona as a defender, playing alongside current coach Ronald Koeman in Johan Cruyff’s famous ‘Dream Team’ which won the club’s first European Cup in 1992.
But nephew Rafael is an ardent Real Madrid fan. “I’m very aware that my nephew is a Real Madrid fan and my brother a former Barcelona player but I don’t hate our rivals,” he added.
“What I’m concerned about is Barca and that they do as well as possible, regardless of whether Rafa supports Real Madrid or Fuenlabrada.”
Nadal also said he and Font would do their best to ensure Lionel Messi remains at the club and signs a new contract before his current deal expires in June.
“We have to make a huge effort to ensure he is happy to be with us,” he said. “It’s terrible that the best player in the club’s history wanted to leave. It shouldn’t be possible for him to be unhappy. We have to create a climate whereby he feels at ease.”