Guillermo Garcia-Lopez continued his strong run on the ATP Tour Asian swing with a straight-sets win over fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in the second round of the Japan Open on Wednesday.
Garcia-Lopez, who upset world No. 1 Rafael Nadal on his way to the Thailand Open title last week, defeated Lopez 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of the $1.2 million event at Ariake Tennis Forest Park.
Garcia-Lopez won the first-set tiebreaker with a backhand cross-court passing shot on the fast surface. Neither player faced a single break point throughout the set.
In the second set, the two-time winner on the tour earned the only break of the match to go up 3-2 and held his serve in the next game after saving three break points.
“The key of the match was the tiebreak. He was winning 5-4 and he was serving, so he had a chance to win the set, but I won the next two points on his serve,” the 39th-ranked Garcia-Lopez told a press conference.
“I think I’m doing everything perfect. I won a tournament last week. I’ve won two matches here. Everything is in the right direction.”
Garcia-Lopez said his semifinal win in Bangkok over Nadal — who has won the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open this year alone — was the best match of his career so far.
“I think I’m playing my best tennis,” Garcia-Lopez said. “It was the first time for me to beat the world No. 1. I played Roger (Federer) many times when he was No. 1, but I never beat him.”
Asked if he thinks he can prevail for the second straight week, the 27-year-old said, “Everything is possible. But it’s going to be really, really difficult. I don’t know.”
Garcia-Lopez will next play fourth-seeded Austrian Jurgen Melzer or Russia’s Viktor Troicki, who eliminated local favorite Kei Nishikori in the first round.
In other second-round matches, Thailand Open runnerup Jarkko Nieminen of Finland defeated Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain 6-3, 7-6 (10-8).
Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic advanced when Marco Chiudinelli of Switzerland retired with lower back pain after trailing 4-1 in the third set.
Radek dropped the first set 5-7 but battled back to win the second 7-6 (9-7).
Russia’s Dmitry Tursunov outlasted Frenchman Richard Gasquet 7-6 (6-2), 1-6, 6-4.
On Thursday, top-seeded Nadal will take on Canadian qualifier Milos Raonic while second seed Andy Roddick will face Jeremy Chardy.