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By Chris Oddo | Friday February 12 2016

There were good moments and not so good moments, but overall the work of defending champion Rafael Nadal was stellar throughout his 7-6(3), 6-2 takedown of Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi on Friday in Buenos Aires.

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Nadal started fast against the 34-year-old Italian, racing to a 4-1 lead in the opener, but his game went off the tracks for a bit through the middle of the first set (he had amassed 19 unforced errors by the end of the set) and Lorenzi took advantage of Nadal’s generosity to power through three consecutive games and level at four-all.

The pair marched to a tiebreaker and Nadal looked to be in trouble after blowing a 3-0 lead but he grabbed the final four points to claim the set, running down a Lorenzi drop shot on his first set point and depositing a clean winner on the line to take the opener.

In the second set Nadal again took an early lead when he followed up a crosscourt backhand that pulled Lorenzi off the court with a pristine drop shot winner to break for 2-1.

He would save two break points in the next game to consolidate and crunched a forehand down-the-line return winner to break for 5-2.

After saving another break point in the next game, Nadal converted his second match point with a nifty serve-and-volley play to seal the victory in one hour and 51 minutes.

Nadal moves on to face a difficult test in 22-year-old Austrian Dominic Thiem on Saturday. World No. 19 Theim rifled past Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic, 6-4, 6-2.

Theim fell to Nadal in straight sets in the second round at Roland Garros in their only previous meeting in 2014.


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