No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal beat French qualifier Adrian Mannarino 6-1, 7-6 (6) in the second round of the China Open on Thursday as the Spaniard continued his effort to secure a spot in next month's ATP World Tour finals in London.
Grigor Dimitrov upset No. 6 seed Lucas Pouille 6-7 (3), 7-6 (0), 6-4 in two hours and 25 minutes in the only other men's singles match Thursday, setting up a quarterfinal clash against Nadal.
Nadal, the 2005 China Open champion, took nine of the first 11 games before Mannarino staged a rally from being down 1-3 in the second set to get back on serve at 3-3 and eventually force a tiebreak. But Nadal earned a mini-break to go up 7-6 in the tiebreak and converted on his second match point.
"I think I played a fantastic first set. Great level of tennis, serving very good, hitting so good," Nadal said. "During the second set, I slowed the rhythm a little bit and he played very well. I feel very happy that I won that tiebreak. I think I played with the right amount of determination in the tiebreak. It's very important for my confidence to pass through these tough moments."
Meanwhile, Dimitrov was two points from defeat in the second set before rallying to force a tiebreaker that he won 7-0 before completing the upset with a 6-4 win in the third set. Nadal has won all seven previous FedEx ATP matches between the two.
"He's a great player that is playing well. He's one of the players on tour with high potential," said Nadal. "I know I have to play my best tennis to win against him, so I'm trying to focus on that.""
--No. 2 seed Gael Monfils of France beat countryman Gilles Simon 6-1, 6-4 on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals of the Japan Open, where he will face No. 7 seed Ivo Karlovic, a 7-6 (9), 7-6 (5) winner over Janko Tipsarevic.
Monfils fell behind 4-1 in the second set against Simon, who had won the past four head-to-head meetings, and Monfils then twisted an ankle, which required treatment before returning. He opted not to have the ankle taped, then reeled off five consecutive games to close out the match.
"In the second set, Gilles started to run a lot better. He played really great for four games or so and I knew I needed to be patient for his level to come back down a bit," Monfils said. "At the same time, I still needed to be the aggressor. I've made improvements mentally, physically and technically this year, and that helped me today against Gilles."
Meanwhile Karlovic has now played five consecutive tiebreak sets in the tournament. Monfils has won three of the previous five meetings.
"Monfils has been playing much better this year," Karlovic said. "He made some changes to his service motion, bringing up his right leg, which have helped him. He's a Top 10 player now and can only go up from here."