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Nadal enters Olympic tennis quarters

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Rio de Janeiro, Aug 12 (IANS) Spain's Rafael Nadal has defeated Frenchman Gilles Simon 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 to advance to the Rio Olympics tennis men's singles quarterfinals.

With his hard-fought win in just over two hours, the third-seeded Nadal successfully kicked off a grueling day here at the Olympic Tennis Centre on Thursday, reports Efe.

Nadal was able to impose his heavy topspin game on the pesky Frenchman, who rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the first set and then put a scare in the Spaniard when he came back from 5-1 down to even the tiebreaker at 5-5.

The Spaniard, despite 28 unforced errors, was able to put the set away in an hour and 15 minutes when Simon hit a forehand over the baseline and then raced out to a 4-0 lead in the second set.

Simon played evenly with the 14-time Grand Slam champion over the last few games, but the deficit proved too great.

In the quarterfinals, Nadal will next square off against Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci, who upset Belgian No. 8 seed David Goffin 7-6 (12-10), 6-4.

In other results Thursday, all of which were originally scheduled for Wednesday but delayed due to rain, Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 6-2 victory over Japan's Taro Daniel and will next take on Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut, a 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) winner over Luxembourg's Gilles Muller.

The 27-year-old Del Potro, who has undergone numerous wrist surgeries in recent years but has rolled back the clock here in Rio and shown the form that carried him to the 2009 U.S. Open title, stunned the top seed and world No. 1, Serbia's Novak Djokovic, in the first round.

In one other men's match completed by early Thursday afternoon, American Steve Johnson advanced to the quarterfinals by routing Russia's Evgeny Donskoy 6-1, 6-1.

In women's singles, American Madison Keys cruised into the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-1 win over 19-year-old Russian Daria Kasatkina; Puerto Rico's Monica Puig also advanced to the final four with a 6-1, 6-1 rout of Germany's Laura Siegemund, as did Czech Petra Kvitova, who dismantled Ukraine's Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-0.

Svitolina was unable to advance any further in the draw after her stunning upset of American world No. 1 Serena Williams on Tuesday.

--IANS

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