Spain's Rafael Nadal, the world No. 5 and second seed, defeated Argentina's Martin Alund 6-0, 6-4 to advance to the quarterfinals of the Mexican Open in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco.
The former world No. 1, who is on the comeback trail after a seven-month hiatus due to a knee injury, needed just 75 minutes to put away Alund and will face Argentine Leonardo Mayer in the quarters.
"I played a really good first set, maybe the best of the tour and I did really good things. I got a little tired in the second and (Alund) attacked me more, it was a more even set, I had some tough times, but it was good," Nadal said in his post-match press conference on Wednesday.
Mayer is "a player with great potential, has big shots and a good serve," Nadal said of his next opponent.
Nadal had an easy time with Alund, breaking the Argentine in the first, third and fifth games of the opening set.
Alund put up more of a fight in the 45-minute second set, settling down and battling hard until being broken in the third game.
Nadal seemed a bit looser against Alund, who is ranked 91st in the world and appeared nervous and confused.
Nadal began last summer on a high note by capturing a record 7th French Open title with a victory over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the final, but he went off the ATP Tour following a shocking second-round loss at Wimbledon.
The Spanish star said in August that he was suffering from a knee ailment known as Hoffa's syndrome, which is also known as fat pad impingement and involves pain and swelling around the bottom and under the kneecap.
The 26-year-old Spaniard made the final in Viña del Mar, Chile, and won the event in Sao Paulo, Brazil, earlier this month.
Nadal said earlier this week that Spanish media reports that he planned to skip the season's first ATP Masters events were "incorrect."
"The media can't know more than me," Nadal said.
The March 4-17 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, California, is one of the tennis season's nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, which rank only below the four Grand Slam tournaments and the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in terms of ranking points and prestige. EFE