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Battling Nadal on the march as he seeks to be master in Paris

 

By Robert Jones

World number one Rafael Nadal scored his 67th victory of the season and 345th at Masters 1000 level overall after a hard-fought battle against Pablo Cuevas, prevailing by 6-3 6-7 6-3 in two hours and 20 minutes.

Thus he advanced to today's quarter-finals of the Paris Masters for the sixth time in as many years in the French capital - though he has never won the title here - and will face Filip Krajinovic, a qualifier.

This was his fifth meeting with Cuevas and the fourth win for Nadal, who had issues with his right knee.

It was a solid match overall, with both players giving their best, especially Cuevas who should be pleased with the way he performed.

Almost nothing could separate the rivals in the shortest and longest points but Nadal had a slight advantage in the mid-range rallies, despite hitting a lot of unforced errors. The Spaniard hit an unexpected total of seven double faults and his second serve was under pressure, playing against five break points and losing serve twice.

Cuevas fired 11 aces and he defended the second serve well.

The problem for the Uruguayan was his first serve percentage, that stayed at just 54%.

Nadal earned 10 break points and he scored four breaks, which was enough for him to prevail in three sets and move into the last eight.

Belfast Telegraph

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