Top-seeded Rafael Nadal opened his grass-court season with a hard-earned three-set victory over Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus at the Mercedes Cup on Thursday.
The Spaniard needed 2 hours, 40 minutes to win 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-2 and book a place in the quarterfinals. "The first match on grass is always tough," Nadal said. "He's a very good player and he'd already played a match." Nadal had a bye into the second round.
He will next face fifth-seeded Bernard Tomic, who cut short the comeback of German veteran Tommy Haas with a 7-6 (6), 6-2 victory. "I need to be more aggressive, to return better, and to move better," Nadal said after his first match since losing in the French Open quarterfinals to Novak Djokovic.
Nadal was 4-2 down in the first set when he saved three break points for 5-2. He regained the break after a sloppy service game from Baghdatis and went on to take the first-set tiebreaker with a service winner.
In the second set, although Nadal saved a couple of set points when serving at 4-5, he could not stop Baghdatis, who hit some big forehand winners down the line and was the steadier of the two in the tiebreaker.
In the third set, Nadal broke serve for 3-1 and stepped up his game to close out the win.
Baghdatis finished with 12 aces, and Nadal seven.
The 37-year-old Haas played his second match after missing more than a year after undergoing surgery for a right shoulder injury. Tomic saved two set points and then won the first 11 points of the second set as he quickly broke Haas' serve twice for a decisive lead. "I couldn't serve the way I wanted to," a frustrated Haas said.
German qualifier Mischa Zverev continued his good run, beating Andreas Seppi of Italy 6-2, 6-4 for a place in the last eight.