Rafael Nadal survived a major scare at the Italian Open in Rome, having to come from behind against Ernest Gulbis to book his quarter-final berth.
Nadal had looked in ominous form while winning six titles since coming back from a knee injury this year, but the temperamental Latvian gave him an unexpected scare.
Defeat in the third round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia would have been unwelcome, especially with the French Open little over a week away.
However, true to his reputation, the former six-time Roland Garros champion showed his incredible powers of recovery and roared back from a first set thrashing to set up a clash with compatriot David Ferrer.
Nadal had made the usual noises about being wary of his opponent’s weapons before the match but he wouldn’t have been the only one to be surprised at the level Gulbis reached in the first set.
Nadal did well to avoid a bagel in the end as Gulbis returned magnificently and served solidly to take opening stanza 6-1.
It was a close contest for much of the second set and the two players traded breaks until Nadal, as he has done so brilliantly throughout his career, stepped up a level when it mattered and closed out the set 7-5.
The deciding set was no walk over but Nadal always looked like winning it and triumphed 6-4 to advance a step closer to his seventh title at this event.
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