PARIS (AP) — Rafael Nadal took a while to find his rhythm Wednesday before progressing to the third round of the Paris Masters with a 7-5, 7-5 win over fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers. It was yet another win in top-ranked Nadal's resurgent run this season.
Roger Federer also advanced in Paris, but was happier that his 6-4, 6-4 victory over Kevin Anderson of South Africa meant he secured a spot at the ATP Finals for the 12th straight year. "It's definitely somewhat of a highlight of the season for me after having a tough few months to still make it to the World Tour Finals," said Federer, who has had a rough season by his own high standards with losses in the second round at Wimbledon and fourth round at the U.S. Open to drop to No. 6 in the rankings.
The fifth-seeded Federer took a 5-1 lead in the second set and held off a late charge from Anderson to clinch the victory when the South African's backhand sailed wide. "Tough isn't always negative," Federer said. "I like it when it's not so easy. But it's true, I had to get up again after being sort of knocked down numerous times this year. I feel really good again, probably the first time ever since maybe Dubai."
No. 1-seeded Nadal said he "didn't play well" against Granollers. That's "something that can happen after two weeks without playing and after a long time without playing on this kind of surface," he explained.
Nadal broke for a 6-5 lead in each set and clinched the victory when Granollers sent a forehand wide. The match stats pointed to a narrow margin of victory, with Nadal hitting 20 winners to 15 for Granollers and making 23 unforced errors compared to 22 for his opponent.
"The rhythm of my legs tonight was poor," Nadal said. "I'm slower than usual, and a lot of mistakes, easy mistakes." Nadal was playing at the Paris Masters for the first time since 2009. He missed the tournament for the past three years because of injuries or fatigue.
"The victories in days that you are not playing well have much more value than the victories on days that you play well," he said. The U.S. Open champion is seeking a record sixth Masters title in a single season. He will next play last year's runner-up, Jerzy Janowicz of Poland.
Nadal unseated Novak Djokovic atop the rankings by reaching the final of the China Open in October. He now has a 30-2 record on hard courts this year. Spain's David Ferrer, the reigning champion in Paris, Juan Martin del Potro, Tomas Berdych and Stanislas Wawrinka also moved into the third round.
Ferrer overcame Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic 6-0, 2-6, 6-3, Del Potro beat Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-4, 7-6 (3), and Berdych overpowered Pablo Andujar of Spain 6-2, 7-5. Cilic was playing only his second match since the end of his four-month ban for a positive doping test. Del Potro entered the Paris Masters following titles at the Swiss Indoors and Japan Open, plus a runner-up finish at the Shanghai Masters.
Del Potro capitalized on a backhand error from Cilic to break for 5-4 in the opening set. The fourth-seeded Argentine then took a 6-2 lead in the tiebreaker and clinched the victory on another backhand error from Cilic.
, Wawrinka defeated Feliciano Lopez of Spain 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to stay in the race for one of the two remaining ATP Finals spots. John Isner, Milos Raonic, Nicolas Almagro, Gilles Simon, Grigor Dimitrov and Philipp Kohlschreiber also won their second-round matches.
American Isner, a semifinalist here two years ago, fired 27 aces and outlasted Polish qualifier Michal Przysiezny 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-3 to advance to a match against second-seeded Djokovic. Raonic, who still has a shot at qualifying for the ATP Finals, downed Dutch qualifier Robin Haase 6-3, 6-4.