nadal advances in rio
RIO DE JANEIRO — Even the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal, needs wins to boost his confidence, which has waned recently as his dominance has slipped on the surface.
"Winning is the important thing, which gives you confidence and lets you relax," Nadal said Thursday after joining fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the quarterfinals of the Rio Open, the third clay-court tournament in a month-long swing around Latin America.
Nadal, the top seed, beat Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 7-5, and Ferrer, seeded second, defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.
Nadal was knocked out in the semifinals last week in Buenos Aires, an exit he linked partly to stomach problems and the stifling heat in the Argentine summer.
"I'm feeling better physically," Nadal said.
Nadal next faces Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine, and Ferrer meets young Austrian Dominic Thiem.
Constant downpours the first three days forced schedulers to compress the schedule Thursday and put Ferrer in action during the afternoon with suffocating humidity and temperatures around 95 degrees.
Boxing: Manny Pacquiao said he respects Nike's decision to sever ties with him over his comments about same-sex marriage but stood pat on his opposition to it and said he's happy "a lot of people were alarmed by the truth." Nike said Wednesday it will no longer have business dealings with Pacquiao, saying it strongly opposes discrimination and his comments were "abhorrent." Pacquiao said Nike's sponsorship now involves only clothes for his April 9 fight with Timothy Bradley.
Horses: The fifth race at Tampa Bay Downs was declared a no race and refunds were given on all tickets. Some of the starting gate stalls did not open when the race began. The ruling was made after a stewards' inquiry.
NFL: Panthers defensive end Jared Allen, a four-time All-Pro who played 12 seasons in the NFL and twice led it in sacks, announced his retirement. Allen, 33, finished with 136 sacks, ninth most in NFL history.
Soccer: Host Manchester United lost 2-1 to Danish club FC Midtjylland in the first leg of its last-32 match in the Europa League. United goalkeeper David de Gea hurt a knee in the warmup and didn't play, putting its list of injured players at 14.
Don Jensen, Times correspondent; Times wires