sports tennis barcelona nadal 4 26 2013 98535 l - Nadal earns rain-delayed win into quarters
BARCELONA: Rafael Nadal led the way with a 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 defeat of Frenchman Benoit Paire on Friday, as the Barcelona Open completed rain-delayed matches from the previous 24 hours and prepared to start the quarter-final ties.

Nadal, the seven-time champion seeded second, dropped his opening service game against the unpredictable Paire, ranked a career-best 33rd, with the Spaniard finding himself trailing 2-0 on the clay of the Real Club de Tenis.

But as the morning match wore on, Nadal found his familiar clay court groove, lifting the first set in a tie-breaker and dominating in the second to take his third-round win.

The world number five will now play unseeded Albert Ramos after his compatriot put out Japanese sixth seed Kei Nishikori 6-4, 7-6 (7/4). Nadal, sidelined for seven months until February with a knee injury, appeared to be well on the road to recovery after his loss in the Monte Carlo final last week to Novak Djokovic.

The 26-year-old Nadal improved to a 37-1 career record in Barcelona with his only loss against current Davis Cup coach Alex Corretja in the 2003 second round.

He now stands 23-2 this season and 18-2 on clay. (AFP)