PARIS Ė Spainís Rafael Nadal struggled more than expected against Uruguayís Pablo Cuevas Thursday night at the Paris Masters but came out on top 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-3 in an up-and-down match.
The world No. 1 and top seed was in complete control of the contest in the opening set, but a series of lost points on net approaches in the second-set tiebreaker proved costly as his unseeded opponent rallied to push the match to a decider.
In the end, however, the Spaniardís ground strokes were too solid for Cuevas, who lost the match despite posting sharply better serving numbers: 11 aces to Nadalís three and one double fault to the Spaniardís seven.
Next up for Nadal in Fridayís quarterfinals of this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event will be little-known Serbian qualifier Filip Krajinovic, who overcame French wildcard Nicolas Mahut 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 on Thursday.
The 16-time Grand Slam champion is seeking his first title at the Paris Masters, a tournament played on an indoor hard court that is less well suited to his game than other surfaces.
The Spaniard, who has dominated the French Open (played outdoors on red clay) to the tune of a record 10 titles, posted his best Paris Masters result in 2007 when he finished runner-up to Argentinaís David Nalbandian.
The 31-year-old Nadal, who has won 18 of his last 19 matches, clinched the ATP year-end No. 1 ranking for the fourth time in his career earlier this week.