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Nadal Powers Into Rio Quarters With Fognini, Dolgopolov

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Rafael Nadal's comeback from a back injury kicked into high gear Thursday when he handed fellow Spaniard Albert Montanes a crushing 6-1, 6-2 defeat to reach the quarter-finals of the Rio Open presented by Claro hdtv, an ATP World Tour 500 tennis tournament. Nadal broke serve six times and improved his career record against countrymen to 101-15.

Nadal, who during the match wore elastic tape across his lower back, said that he was still a little short of full fitness. “When you get injured in the final of a Grand Slam and stop for 2 ½ weeks it’s not easy to come back. The back is still bothering me a little bit. But I am happy with my decision to be here."

Nadal broke Montanes’ opening service games in both sets and was challenged only briefly in the sixth game of the second set. Having broken Nadal to get back on serve at 2-3 Montanes held a game point to draw level, but Nadal refused to yield and won the final four games of the match.

The 26-time ATP World Tour Masters 1000 champion next faces Portugal’s Joao Sousa, who defeated Spain’s Albert Ramos 7-6(6), 2-6, 6-3.

Nadal is playing his first tournament since falling to Stanislas Wawrinka in the Australian Open final. He is looking to reach his third consecutive final, having won the Doha title in the first week of the year. Last season the left-hander reached a career-best 14 finals.

Alexandr Dolgopolov reached his second ATP World Tour quarter-final of the season on Thursday as he defeated Facundo Bagnis 6-7(4), 6-2, 7-6(4). The Ukrainian converted five of his 12 break points as he battled to victory in two hours and 31 minutes.

The 25-year-old Dolgopolov had upset Nicolas Almagro in the first round and is bidding to reach his first semi-final since August 2013, when he made the final four in Winston-Salem (l. to Monfils). He goes on to face third seed Fabio Fognini, who was also tested, edging Pablo Cuevas 7-6(1), 4-6, 6-3.

The 26-year-old Fognini will look to overturn a 0-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Dolgopolov. Strong form at the start of the Latin American Golden Swing has seen the Italian reach a career-high World No. 14 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. He won his third ATP World Tour title in Vina del Mar (d. Mayer) before finishing runner-up in Buenos Aires (l. to Ferrer).

Colombians Upset Third Seeds
Colombian duo Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah defeated third seeds and last week’s Buenos Aires champions Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez 6-3, 7-5 to reach the semi-finals. Cabal and Farah are looking to reach their third ATP World Tour final of the season, following runner-up finishes in Brisbane and Vina del Mar.

Top seeds Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares suffered no such upset, dismissing Jeremy Chardy and Lukas Dlouhy 6-4, 6-1. The Austrian/Brazilian duo are chasing their first title of the season after reaching the finals in Doha and Auckland.

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