Casablanca, Morocco (4E Sports) – Third seed Benoit Paire reached the quarterfinals of the Grand Prix Hassan II for a third straight year after beating Albert Montanes, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, Thursday.
In his first match since the Australian Open after being sidelined for two months with a knee injury, Paire struck 13 aces and converted on three of his seven break points en route to victory against Montanes.
Paire will look to reach the Casablanca semifinals for the first time when he next meets No. 8 seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who defeated Argentine Carlos Berlocq, 6-2, 7-5.
Paire holds a 2-0 head-to-head record against the Garcia-Lopez, including a victory this past January in Chennai.
“I’m very happy to be back on the court,” said Paire. “The quarter-final against Garcia-Lopez will be a tough match since he’s a great clay-court player. I’ve played him a few times and the matches were always very close.”
Fourth seed Marcel Granollers defeated countryman Albert Ramos, 6-3, 7-6(3) , to advance against Pablo Carreno Busta, who edged Kazakhstani Aleksandr Nedovyesov, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(3).
Roberto Carballes Baena advanced to the quarterfinals in his second ATP World Tour after beating fifth seed Joao Sousa, 6-7(7), 7-6(5), 6-2, in three hours and 13 minutes.
Carballes Baena will next play Russian lucky loser Andrey Kuznetsov, who led Jiri Vesely 6-2, 3-1 when the 20-year-old Czech retired due to illness.
At the US Men’s Clay Court Championship in Houston, fourth seed Fernando Verdasco defeated Steve Johnson, 6-0, 4-6, 6-3, to advance to the second round.
Alejandro Gonzalez also advanced after fifth seed Feliciano Lopez retired with an injury while trailing 6-3, 2-0. In the other finished match, Donald Young defeated No. 6 Juan Monaco, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-3.
On the women’s side, Agnieszka Radwanska cruised past Francesca Schiavone, 6-4, 6-3, to advance to the quarterfinal of the Katowice Open.
Radwanska will next take on sixth seed Yvonne Meusburger, who beat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 6-2, 6-3.
In other matches, Alize Cornet topped Slovakian qualifier Kristina Kucova, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, while seventh-seeded Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova downd Spaniard Silvia Soler-Espinosa, 6-2, 6-0.
In Colombia, reigning champion Jelena Jankovic easily dispatched Sofia Shapatava, 6-4, 6-3, to book a quarterfinal spot at the Claro Open Colsanitas.
In the other finished match, Romina Oprandi ousted Irina-Camelia Begu, 6-4, 6-1.