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Nadal beats Nishikori in 3 sets at Barcelona Open

Rafael Nadal beat Kei Nishikori 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals of the Barcelona Open.

The 11-time tournament champion looked ready to roll to a quick victory after dominating the first set, but Nishikori responded with some fine net play to level it at 1-1.

Nadal broke Nishikori twice in the decisive set, converting his second match point by driving a forehand winner down the line.

Spain's Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Japan's Kei Nishikori during the Godo tennis tournament in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (AP PhotoJoan Monfort)

The top-seeded Nadal is still searching for his best tennis after being upset in the Monte Carlo quarterfinals by Andrey Rublev. He needed three sets to beat 111th-ranked Ilya Ivashka of Belarus in his first match in Barcelona on Wednesday.

Nadal will face Britain’s Cameron Norrie next. Norrie advanced after David Goffin retired in the second set of their match due to injury.

Nishikori won the outdoor clay-court tournament in 2014 and 2015 when Nadal was battling injuries.

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates a point against Japan's Kei Nishikori during the Godo tennis tournament in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (AP PhotoJoan Monfort)

The tournament was not held last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Spain's Rafael Nadal reacts during a match against Japan's Kei Nishikori during the Godo tennis tournament in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (AP PhotoJoan Monfort)

Spain's Rafael Nadal reacts during a match against Japan's Kei Nishikori during the Godo tennis tournament in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (AP PhotoJoan Monfort)

Japan's Kei Nishikori returns the ball to Spain's Rafael Nadal during the Godo tennis tournament in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (AP PhotoJoan Monfort)

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates a point against Japan's Kei Nishikori during the Godo tennis tournament in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (AP PhotoJoan Monfort)

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates a point against Japan's Kei Nishikori during the Godo tennis tournament in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, April 22, 2021. (AP PhotoJoan Monfort)