VINA DEL MAR, Chile — Rafael Nadal and Juan Monaco reached the doubles semifinals at the VTR Open with a 6-2, 7-6 (4) victory over Guillaume Ruffin and Filippo Volandri on Thursday.
It was Nadal’s third match in three days after being away from the tour for slightly more seven months with an inflamed left ankle and a stomach virus.
Nadal faces fellow Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver in the singles quarterfinals Friday.
The former No. 1-ranked Nadal moved easily around the court, showing no signs his left knee was bothering him.
“He is worrying about his knees, he’s worried about his health. He’s worried about getting back to a good competitive level,” his spokesman Benito Perez-Barbadillo said.
“He’s not worried in a negative way,” he added. “What he cares about is to be healthy and be ready to be competitive at every level he plays and to be at the same level as he was playing before.”
Nadal came to Chile wanting to get playing time as he tries to catch up to his top rivals Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic again. If he keeps winning in singles and doubles, he will be playing two matches a day this weekend.
Nadal won the last of his eight doubles titles last year with Mark Lopez in Indian Wells. He has won 50 titles in singles.
CILIC CRUISES TO WIN: In Zagreb, Croatia, top-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia moved a step closer to a third title in his home event, beating Grega Zemlja 6-3, 6-2 Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the Zagreb Indoors.
Cilic won this tournament in 2009 and 2010 and improved his record at the event to 14-4. He had 11 aces and broke his opponent three times.
“I am very pleased with the way I played,” Cilic said. “I felt he was nervous in the beginning, and it helped me gain an early advantage.”
Cilic will face another Slovenian, Blaz Kavcic, who upset sixth-seeded Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4 and reach his third career quarterfinal. Baghdatis, the 2007 champion, failed to serve out the match at 5-4 in the second set, and pulled out of the doubles because of a foot injury.
“I did not want to take any risks,” he said. “I have to give credit to Kavcic, he played well.”
Ivan Dodig also reached the quarterfinals by defeating Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (2), 6-7 (2), 6-3. Dodig wasted a match point at 5-4 in the second set, allowing Karlovic his only break.
Dodig will play defending champion Mikhail Youzhny on Friday.
Fourth-seeded Jurgen Melzer of Austria rallied past Somdev Devvarman of India 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2. Devvarman had a 5-3 lead in the tiebreaker, but then lost four points in a row.
Robin Haase of the Netherlands defeated fifth-seeded Martin Klizan of Slovakia 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.
Also Thursday, Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic ousted Italy’s Flavio Cipolla 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 and Philipp Petzchner of Germany beat Croatian wild card Dino Marcan 6-3, 6-4. Marcan entered the tournament as a replacement for second-seeded Andreas Seppi, who withdrew because of an illness.
4 Frenchmen advance to Montpellier quarterfinals: In Montpellier, France, Michael Llodra of France had 13 aces and did not concede a break point, beating second-seeded Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia 6-3, 7-6 (4) Thursday to reach the Open Sud de France quarterfinals.
Three other Frenchmen also advanced to the quarters: third-seeded Richard Gasquet, fourth-seeded Gilles Simon and sixth-seeded Julien Benneteau.
Llodra hit 20 winners in the first set and was the more aggressive player, displaying excellent volleying at the net. Tipsarevic saved two break points at 15-40 in the 11th game of the second set and then opened a 3-1 lead in the tiebreaker, but Llodra fought back and sealed victory with consecutive aces.
“My serve was good today and that helps on a quick surface like this,” Llodra said. “There wasn’t much in it, but I think I had more chances than him. I’m very happy to have won in straight sets.”
Simon had 12 aces in a 7-6 (5), 6-2 win against qualifier Arnau Brugues-Davi. Simon next faces eighth-seeded Benoit Paire in an all-French match. Llodra plays Jan Hajek of the Czech Republic, who led 6-0, 4-2 against seventh-seeded Viktor Troicki when the Serb retired.
“He impressed me earlier,” Llodra said. “The match is within my reach but all of these matches are tough.”
Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine defeated Tatsuma Ito of Japan 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (3) and will next face Jarkko Nieminen of Finland.
Gasquet will meet Benneteau in another all-French match after coming back from an error-strewn second set to beat compatriot Gael Monfils 6-3, 2-6, 6-3. Benneteau defeated Victor Hanescu of Romania 6-4, 6-4.
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