Spain's Rafael Nadal serves to Brazil's Joao Souza during their match at the Brazil Open in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Thursday.

Sao Paulo - Spain's Rafael Nadal scored an easy two-set victory in his singles debut at the Brazil Open late on Thursday.

The former world number one needed only 78 minutes to prevail over Brazilian Joao Souza, ranked 101st in the world, with an impressive 6-3, 6-4 scoreline.

Nadal advanced to the quarter-finals which will be played on Friday.

On Wednesday, the Spanish star withdrew from a scheduled doubles match he was to have played with Argentina's David Nalbandian against Argentine Horacio Zeballos and Austrian Oliver Marach, citing “knee overuse”.

Nadal, currently ranked number five in the world, only returned to the tour in Chile last week after a seven-month injury absence.

The 11-time grand slam champion, who lost both the singles and doubles finals on Sunday at his comeback event in Vina del Mar, Chile, is the top seed at this week's event in Sao Paulo.

The $455 775 Brazil Open is part of the Latin American clay court circuit, along with the Vina del Mar and the Mexico Open in Acapulco, where Nadal plans to play later this month. - Sapa-AFP