Oeiras, Portugal – Spaniard David Ferrer began his clay rehabilitation after a first-round loss last week, with the top seed reaching the quarter-finals of the Portugal Open in a difficult 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 defeat of Eduardo Roger-Vasselin on Wednesday.
Ferrer, who played as tournament number one in Barcelona a week ago but went out in his opening round, had it all to play for in Portugal, where he had not set foot on court since 2009.
The 73rd-ranked Roger-Vasselin recovered an early break in the first set and then rose to the occasion again as Ferrer led a set and 4-2 in the second.
“I was up a set, 4-2, 40-0 and serving,” said the 31-year-old Spaniard, who has won titles this season in Auckland and Buenos Aires as well as finishing as runner-up on clay in Acapulco to Rafael Nadal.
“But suddenly I lost my concentration and the game and set. I played OK in the third but I had to fight back. I have to really lift my level for the next round.”
The Spaniard said he was at home last weekend when he got the call from Portugal organisers to take the place of holder Juan Del Potro, who had come down with a stomach virus and would not be able to defend his title.
“I was very glad to get the chance to play,” said Ferrer. “It was what I needed after Barcelona.””
Ferrer on Friday takes on Romanian Victor Hanescu, who also beat a French opponent as he put out sixth seed Benoit Paire 7-6 (7-2), 6-4.
Ferrer improved his record at the tournament to 2-3 in a win which took the better part of two hours.
The ATP number four lifted his 2013 record to 26-6 and has defeated Hanescu in two previous meetings, including Barcelona on clay in 2011.
On the women's WTA side, unseeded double Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova came through a ragged effort to defeat Galina Voskoboeva 6-4, 6-4.
But her fellow former French Open champion colleague, Francesca Schiavone of Italy, lost to Monica Puig of Puerto Rico 6-3, 6-2.
Three of four seeds got through to the last eight, with Martina Hingis-coached Kazakh Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the number three, leading with a defeat of Spain's Estrella Cabeza Candela 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).
Number four Carla Suarez Navarro levelled for Ibera as she beat 2009 Portugal champion Yanina Wickmayer 6-4, 6-3.
Estorian holder Kaia Kanepi put out Romanian fifth seed Sorona Cirstea 6-1, 6-2. Russian number seven Elena Vesnina stopped Monica Niculescu 6-4, 6-4.
Kuznersova is playing the Portugal main draw for the first time and said she does not remember a first-round loss in qualifying 11 years ago.
The 27-year-old winner expressed some disappointment with her match after struggling to overcome Voskoboeva, ranked 117 to her own 45th.
“I was a little lazy at the start, it was an OK win but I'm not so happy about it. I like to play on clay but this court feels a little bit slow.”
Kuznetsova next faces Swiss Romina Oprandi, who beat China's Peng Shuai 6-1, 6-3.
Kuznetsova has won all three meetings with Oprandi.
“She's got a very different game, she doesn't give you any rhythm,” said the Russian. “She's very unpredictable and I will have to play much better than I did today.” – Sapa-dpa