After a wild, upset-ridden Wednesday, the big names at the Rio Open fared better Thursday, as Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer, among others, looked to book a place in the quarterfinals.
Below, we'll break down the day's results and Friday's schedule.
|(1) Rafael Nadal||6||7|
|(2) David Ferrer||4||6||6|
After Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's shocking loss Wednesday, the top two seeds in the tournament were able to avoid the same fate Thursday, as both No. 1 Nadal and No. 2 Ferrer advanced to the quarterfinals.
Nadal won in straight sets over Nicolas Almagro, though his fellow Spaniard gave him all he could handle in the second set. The difference in the match was Nadal's return game—he won 40 percent of his first-serve return points and 52 percent of his second-serve return points—and his ability to convert four of the five break points he created.
Almagro, on the other hand, converted just two of his eight break-point opportunities.
Nadal also showcased a bit of magic, as TennisTV showed:
Wow. Wow. Wow. Nadal breaks back for 6-5. The key shot? This laser like forehand on the run. https://t.co/81drr9EvdK— TennisTV (@TennisTV) February 18, 2016
There wasn't much Almagro could do about that. And it was indicative of the improvement Pau Ferragut of Marca saw in Rafa's play during the match:
#Nadal is already improving since last week. Today he moved better but made some mistakes from the baseline. Dolgopolov won't take him rythm— Pau Ferragut (@PauFerragut) February 18, 2016
Up next will be Alexandr Dolgopolov, who has already knocked out No. 8 Thomaz Bellucci in the opening round and won in three sets Thursday.
Nothing came easy for Ferrer in his win over Albert Ramos-Vinolas, as he needed three sets to advance. The difference in the match was Ferrer's ability to pounce on Ramos-Vinolas' second serve, winning 61 percent of those points.
Things won't get easier for Ferrer, who will face Argentina Open winner Dominic Thiem in the quarters.
"He's a very great player," Ferrer said of Thiem, per Stephen Wade of the Associated Press (via the Jakarta Post). "He's young. He's playing with confidence. He's going to be a top player, for sure. I like his game and tomorrow is going to be tough I know. I'll have to play my best tennis for a win."
It will be fun for tennis fans, however, especially if Thiem can add a win over Ferrer to an impressive resume that includes a triumph over Nadal in Buenos Aires.
Pablo Cuevas, Guido Pella and Federico Delbonis also advanced to the quarterfinals.
|(6) Lara Arruabarrena||7||5||6|
|(3) Danka Kovinic||6||6|
|Paula Cristina Goncalves||6||6|
|(2) Johanna Larsson||4||4|
While the top players in the men's draw avoided upsets Thursday, the top woman in action, No. 2 Johanna Larsson, wasn't as lucky, losing in straight sets to Paula Cristina Goncalves.
It was a back-and-forth match, as Goncalves won five of 10 break-point opportunities, while Larsson won three of five. Larsson's serve betrayed her, as she double-faulted four times and won just 47 percent of her first-serve points.
Third-seeded Danka Kovinic fared better, knocking off Silvia Soler-Espinosa in straight sets with relative ease. Kovinic smashed four aces and won 78 percent of her first-service points in the easy victory.
Sixth-seeded Lara Arruabarrena had more trouble, needing three sets to get past Ana Bogdan in a wild match that saw the players threaten to break each other on numerous occasions. Arruabarrena broke Bogdan five times in 15 chances, while Bogdan converted just four of 18 potential break points.
Petra Martic rounded out Thursday's winners and earned her spot in the quarters.
|Men||Daniel Gimeno-Traver vs. Guido Pella||11:30 a.m.|
|Women||Cindy Burger vs. Francesca Schiavone||11:30 a.m.|
|Men||Pablo Cuevas vs. Federico Delbonis||Not before 1 p.m.|
|Women||Shelby Rogers vs. Paula Cristina Goncalves||Not before 1:30 p.m.|
|Women||Petra Martic vs. Lara Arruabarrena||Following doubles match at 11:30 a.m.|
|Women||Sorana Cirstea vs. Danka Kovinic||Following Martic vs. Arruabarrena|
|Men||David Ferrer vs. Dominic Thiem||Following Cuevas vs. Delbonis|
|Men||Rafael Nadal vs. Alexandr Dolgopolov||Not before 4 p.m.|