Tennis: Nadal earns rain-delayed win into quarters

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-finals.

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.

"It wasn't a brilliant match but winning was the most important thing," said Nadal. "It's a long day today, so straight sets is not a bad way to start.

"My next opponent will be playing at a high level and I need to improve over how I played in the morning."

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.

The 2004 winner Tommy Robredo of Spain knocked out third seed Tomas Berdych 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 after almost losing a 5-1 lead in his comeback second set.

The 30-year-old winner missed nearly half of last season with a leg injury. He denied Berdych a 400th career victory.

Milos Raonic, meanwhile, moved to within one win of duplicating his semi-final from 2012, the year he beat Andy Murray in the quarters.

The Canadian fifth seed played and won his delayed match over Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 6-2, 7-6 (8/6).

German eighth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber came back to finish a match interrupted by the weather on Thursday, turning the tables on Slovak 11th seed Martin Klizan for a 1-6, 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/5) win.

Kohlschreiber then struck it lucky as intended quarter-final opponent Thomaz Bellucci withdrew injured, sending his opponent into the first of the semi-final places.