SYDNEY – World number one Rafael Nadal won a battle of attrition against fellow left-hander Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan 7-6(4) 6-4 to seal Spain's spot in the final eight of the inaugural ATP Cup in Perth on Wednesday.
Meanwhile his long-time rival, world number two Novak Djokovic, had an easier outing in Brisbane, strolling past Chile's Cristian Garin 6-3 6-3 to stay undefeated in the new year and to ensure Serbia will travel to Sydney for the knockouts having won all three of their ties.
Nadal had to twice fight back from a break down against the Japanese world number 72 in the opening set before winning the tiebreaker. The Spaniard broke his opponent's serve to go up 5-4 in the second before holding serve for victory.
“It's the first day I was playing under such heavy conditions, two previous days I had played in the night. The feeling on court was completely different,” Nadal said in an on-court interview.
“I played against an opponent who started the season on fire, winning two matches against two great players with very comfortable results. Today was a very, very tough one.”