Rafael Nadal suffered an injury scare but still moved into the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters after beating Pablo Cuevas 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-3, on what was an eventful day in the French capital.
The world No. 1 is chasing a first title at Paris-Bercy and can move beyond Novak Djokovic to be crowned as the outright most successful player in Masters 1000 events, with just three more wins.
Cuevas has struggled for form since enjoying a fine clay-court season, losing nine consecutive matches ahead of this event but having got some victories under his belt, he battled back to cause Nadal some issues.
The top seed appeared to be complete control, leading by a set and a break, but Cuevas took the match into a decider to take advantage of Nadal’s injury troubles.
Nadal had his right knee taped during a Shanghai Masters final defeat to Roger Federer – which also saw him pull out of Basel – and he was forced to have strapping applied once more at the end of the second set.
He ultimately overcame the world No. 36, though he hit seven double faults, but fears will no doubt mount concerning his involvement at the ATP World Tour Finals, despite his escape act on Thursday evening.
Several seeds fell in a hectic day, with David Goffin and Grigor Dimitrov among the casualties, although the former still confirmed his spot at the ATP Finals in London.
After Lucas Pouille crashed out, the Belgian secured the seventh place at the season-ending event and he will join Federer, Nadal, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Marin Cilic and Dimitrov at the O2.
The eighth spot is still up for grabs, and Juan Martin del Potro will move into pole position with a win over John Isner in the last-eight, which also confirmed his return to the world’s top-10.
Pablo Carreno Busta is currently hanging on to the final spot, although Roberto Bautista Agut, Isner and Jack Sock are also in contention.
‘It’s going to be a good battle next round trying to qualify for London,’ Del Potro said. ‘But anyways, I think I have two ways to take, one is London, one is my home and vacation.
‘Both ways are great to me, but of course, I would love to reach London once again.
‘It could be a fantastic moment for me. I didn’t expect to get this close to qualifying for London.
‘And everything is very amazing after all my problems, all my injuries… I love to surprise myself, and that’s what I’m doing now.’
For Nadal, Filip Krajinovic awaits after the world No. 77 continued his fine run in Paris by beating Nicolas Mahut 6-4 6-1.
Nadal got off to a quick start, breaking for a 3-1 lead inside the opening 15 minutes and kept hold of his own serve to take a 1-0 lead.
An early break at the start of the second didn’t put the Uruguayan to bed, and he took the second set in a breaker, with Nadal clearly struggling.
The Spaniard showed real fight to break again at the start of the third but again Cuevas, who was a point away from going 0-4 down, scrambled back into it with a break for 2-3.