MADRID: Rafael Nadal entered the round of 16 of the Mutua Madrid Open on Wednesday with a straight win over Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic 6-1, 7-6 (4).
The Spanish third seed raced away with the first set on his return to action after six weeks out with a rib injury, as his serve worked effectively, but he had to work much harder in the second set as Kecmanovic reacted well.
Nadal served for the set at 6-5 up only for Kecmanovic to break back and force a tie-break.
The second seed, Alexander Zverev also had to dig deep to come from behind after losing the first set against Marin Cilic. The Croatian took the first set before Zverev kept his nerve to win the second and third set by the same score to seal a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win.
No. 5 seed Casper Ruud was the victim of an upset as Dusan Lajovic beat the Norwegian in three sets, 7-6 (7), 2-6, 6-4 to book a place in the round of 16, while ninth seed Cameron Norrie won another three-set match against big-serving John Isner, 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-4.
Roberto Bautista Agut, who was seeded 17th in Madrid, was knocked out by Britain's Daniel Evans, 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (2) in a match that lasted just two minutes short of three hours.
In the women's quarterfinals, Ons Jabeur, who is the eighth seed - the top-ranked seed left in the tournament, enjoyed a 6-3, 6-2 win over Simona Halep, defeating the two-time Madrid winner and former world number one in an hour and seven minutes.
Ekaterina Alexandrova also booked her place in the semi-finals thanks to a 6-4, 6-3 victory against Amanda Anisimova in an hour and a half.
Jill Teichmann moved into the last four with a 6-3, 6-4 victory against Anhelina Kalinina, while 12th seed Jessica Pegula completes the draw after knocking out Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-4, 6-2.