Nadal struggles in his grass court opener

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Stuttgart: Rafael Nadal got his grass-court season off to a ponderous start by defeating Marcos Baghdatis 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (4/7), 6-2 for a quarter-final place at the Stuttgart Open on Thursday.

The Spaniard, who won the German title in 2005 and 2007 when the tournament was played on clay, struggled for more than two and a half hours to overcome the 63rd-ranked Cypriot.

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Nadal is aiming for a fresh start on grass after a miserable clay season in which he did not win a European title.

The world number 10 had his 39-match winning streak at the French Open — where he was the nine-time champion — snapped by Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals last week.

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