Rafael Nadal through to last eight in Rio

Rafael Nadal Rio Open 2015

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Defending champion Rafael Nadal sealed his place in the quarter-finals of the Rio Open with a straight sets victory over compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta.

The number one seed took over two hours to dispose of his opponent in what was a tough last-16 encounter, but the 28-year-old finally prevailed in Brazil 7-5 6-3.

The Spaniard is yet to drop a set in the tournament although he did find himself a break down to the world number 49 early on in the first set in what was the first meeting between the two players.

Nadal rallied to take the first set before breaking the serve of his 23-year-old opponent in the eighth game of the second set to seal a place in the quarter-finals where he will face sixth seed Pablo Cuevas.

After the match the 14-time Grand Slam winner was full of praise for Carreno Busta, admitting that he began to suffer with tiredness during the second set in what is his first tournament on clay of the year.

He said: “It was a tough match. I was glad to get the break back when he got to 3-2. At 5-4 I made a couple of mistakes. Then in the second set I was a bit tired from the first to begin with and sought to bring my serve through.”

Nadal will now take on Uruguayan Cuevas for a place in the last four. The Spaniard is heavy favourite to make it through against the world number 23 at 1.14 with his 29-year-old opponent available at 5.76.

Should Nadal defeat Cuevas he will face the winner of the match between Fabio Fognini and Federico Delbonis in the semi-finals, as he looks to defend the title he won by defeating Alexandr Dolgopolov 12 months ago.

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