Rome Masters 2014: Rafael Nadal forced to dig deep as Giles Simon takes the world number one all the way before Spaniard progresses to third round

Nadal comes through the second round meeting 7-6 (7/1) 6-7 (4/7) 6-2 to set-up match against Mikhail Youzhny in Thursday

World number one Rafael Nadal had to dig deep to get past an inspired Gilles Simon in the second round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome.

Nadal, who is aiming to win the tournament for the eighth time, was taken to two tie-breaks before finally wearing down his opponent in the final set to win 7-6 (7/1) 6-7 (4/7) 6-2.

It had looked straightforward for Nadal in the opening set, with him a break up at 4-2, but then Simon restored parity at 5-5 and both men broke each other in subsequent games to set up a tie-break.

After the topsy-turvy nature of the match at that point, the decider was surprisingly comfortable as Nadal coolly took it 7/1.

Nadal surrendered an early break advantage in the second set and was forced to prove his mettle to come back from 0-40 down to hold and nudge 5-4 in front.

The world number one fluffed his lines on match point at 6-5 though, snatching a tame forehand into the net as the Frenchman held serve to take it into a second tie-break, which he won 7/4.

Nadal capitalised on the first signs of weakness from Simon in the final set to see out the victory. He will meet Mikhail Youzhny in the third round on Thursday.

Fourth seed Roger Federer was dumped out by world number 47 Jeremy Chardy 1-6 6-3 7-6 (8/6).

The Swiss star fought back from 2-4 in the final set to force a tie-break, holding match point at 6-5, but Chardy tied up the scores at 6-6 and then made no mistakes on his own match point.

British number one Andy Murray overcame windy conditions to beat Marcel Granollers 6-2 7-5.

The Scot managed to take the opening set at a canter, before sealing the victory after an hour and 25 minutes to face Jurgen Melzer in the next round.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga came through a gruelling test to beat Kevin Anderson 7-6 (16/14) 7-6 (7/5) and book a third-round match with Milos Raonic.

In the women's draw, Serena Williams made light work of Germany's Andrea Petkovic, powering her way to a 6-2 6-2 victory.

There were doubts about whether Williams would be fit enough to participate after dropping out of the Madrid Open with a thigh injury last week, but she showed no ill-effects during her comfortable win.

Third seed Agnieszka Radwanska also had a straightforward day as she beat Argentinian Paula Ormaechea 6-3 6-2, while Maria Sharapova navigated a tougher test against Monica Puig 6-3 7-5 to maintain her perfect form on clay in 2014.

PA

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