Rafael Nadal battles past Marcos Baghdatis in Stuttgart
Last Updated: 12/06/15 9:49am
Two-times Wimbledon champion Rafa Nadal kicked off his grass-court season with a 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 win over Marcos Baghdatis at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart on Thursday.
It was a morale-boosting win for Nadal, who suffered only his second defeat in 72 matches at the French Open last week when he lost in the quarter-final to Novak Djokovic.
The 29-year-old top seed, down at 10th in the ATP rankings after a disappointing year, will have been pleased at how he responded in the deciding set having been pegged back by Baghdatis and the two hours 40 minutes he spent honing his grasscourt game will serve him well.
Nadal began in rusty fashion, dropping serve early on and Baghdatis had chances to lead 5-2 with a double break, but allowed the world No 10 off the hook.
A dreadful service game from Baghdatis allowed Nadal back into the first set and he soon began to find his range, taking the opener on the tie-break.
Nadal saved two set points at 4-5 in the second set, the second with a deft drop volley, but could not fend off Baghdatis in the tie-break as the match went the distance.
He took command in the decider though and moved through to the quarter-finals where he will face Australian Bernard Tomic.
"I'm very happy to win this match, it's good to be in the quarter-finals," said the 29-year-old Spaniard. "Marcos made it difficult, he's a tough opponent on this surface.
"I need to play more aggressively if I'm to improve on the grass. This was an important victory for me, it's good for the confidence.
"I have great memories of winning here when Stuttgart was clay, but I'm going to try my best to win it on grass now."