Three-time Auckland titlist David Ferrer earned a hard-fought 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 victory over Taiwan's Yen- Hsun Lu on Wednesday at the Heineken Open, a final Australian Open tune-up.
The top-seeded Ferrer needed just under two hours to sneak past Lu on the hardcourts at ASB Tennis Centre. The gritty Spaniard will meet Slovak Lukas Lacko in Thursday's quarterfinals.
Ferrer is trying to become the first player since Aussie great Roy Emerson to capture this tournament four times, including three years in a row.
Second-seeded German Philipp Kohlschreiber fended off Alejandro Falla of Colombia 7-6 (6-4), 4-6, 6-3, while the 2008 Auckland champion Kohlschreiber's compatriot, No. 3 seed Tommy Haas, rolled past qualifier Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands, 6-3, 6-4.
American Sam Querrey, the 2009 runner-up and No. 4 seed, drove out two-time runner-up Olivier Rochus of Belgium, 7-5, 6-3, while Thomaz Bellucci was the lone seeded player to suffer a setback on Wednesday, as the eighth seed from Brazil was bested by Lacko, 6-3, 7-5. Rochus lost to Ferrer in last year's Auckland finale.
Canadian qualifier Jesse Levine continued his solid play with a 7-5, 6-4 triumph over American Brian Baker, while oft-injured French star Gael Monfils overcame Australian qualifier Greg Jones 6-4, 6-2.
Also on Wednesday, Xavier Malisse of Belgium outlasted Colombian Santiago Giraldo 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 to reach the round of eight.
Thursday's other quarters will pit Kohlschreiber against Malisse, Haas versus Monfils, and Querrey against Levine, a Canadian native who played under the U.S. flag prior to this year.