BANGKOK - Fernando Verdasco offered words of sympathy for injured fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal Tuesday after surviving a scare to reach the ATP Thailand Open second round.
The fifth seed and former semi-finalist had to figure out a way to win as he rallied past Japanese surprise package Tatsuma Ito 3-6, 6-0, 6-2, eventually advancing at a canter.
Afterwards, Verdasco said everyone was behind Nadal, the 11-time Grand Slam winner who has revealed he has no idea when his left knee injury will allow him to return to tennis.
"He is the best player in history from Spain and everyone cares for him. But only he knows his feelings," Verdasco said. "He is the only one who can decide when he comes back to play. I don't know what more to say really."
Ito went off the boil after a torrid start, allowing the court-wise Spaniard to get the job done in the end.
"He really surprised me, I had never seen him play," said world number 23 Verdasco.
"He played an unbelievable first set and I knew after that if I wanted to come back I would have to give 100 percent. I didn't expect that he would have played so well.
"But in the second set he let his level go a bit and by the third I was playing better than him. It was a very difficult match and one I'm glad I got through."
Elsewhere, Australia's Bernard Tomic ousted former champion Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-0, 6-2 in a rousing start to his campaign.
The eighth seed, who is the only teenager in the top 50 but turns 20 in a matter of weeks, may have benefited from a foot injury troubling his Spanish opponent, who needed treatment after losing the first set.
"He's a good player and won this tournament before," Tomic said of Garcia-Lopez, who beat Nadal in the semi-finals on his way to victory in 2010.
"But I'm playing really well. I've trained in the heat here and I'm ready to play."
Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, 21, took more than two-and-a-quarter hours to get past Yang Tsung-hua of Taiwan 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (9/7).
Three former finalists, Viktor Troicki of Serbia, Finn Jarkko Nieminen and 2011 runner-up Donald Young of the United States all advanced into the second round as rain hammered down on the indoor arena.
Sixth seed Troicki had the tougher first round match, coming back from a set down to defeat Sergiy Stakhovsky of the Ukraine 6-7 (4/7), 7-5, 6-3.
The win broke a losing streak for world number 31 Troicki, who was knocked out in his opening matches at his previous two tournaments.
"I'm happy with this first-round performance," said the Serb, who will play either Frenchman Gael Monfils or South African qualifier Kevin Anderson in the next round.
"No matter whom I play in the next round, it will be a tough match again for sure. I hope I can keep playing as well as I did today," he added.
Nieminen, beaten by Garcia Lopez in the 2010 final, progressed after just 35 minutes when Japan's Yuichi Sugita retired following a 6-1 loss in the first set.
American Young earned a much-needed win -- only his fourth of the year -- as he beat Lu Yen-hsun of Taiwan 5-7, 6-2, 7-5.
In other results, Israeli Dudi Sela defeated Roger Federer's childhood friend Marco Chiudinelli 6-4, 6-4, while Japan's Hiroki Moriya upset Dutchman Robin Haase 2-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3.
© 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse