Top-seeded Nadal, down at 10 in the world after a difficult year in which he lost his French Open title and suffered another early exit from Wimbledon, decided to play the clay court tournament in a bid to resurrect his fortunes before heading for the US hard court season.
The effervescent Verdasco, 31, had won their last two clashes on the hard courts of Miami earlier this year and on clay in Madrid in 2012 and he came out firing on all??cylinders to take the first set??under the court’s canvas cover.
But the 14-time Grand Slam champion showed great fighting spirit and composure to win the next two for the loss of two games.
Verdasco saved one match point but then hit the net with a backhand to hand Nadal the win??at the clay-court tournament.
He will take on the winner of the match between Czech youngster??Jiri Vesely and??Andreas Haider-Maurer from Austria for a place in the quarter-finals.
In Nadal’s last visit to the German city, he defeated Roger Federer in the 2008 final.
He is now 12-2 at the tournament, having only lost to Federer in 2007 and to former Roland Garros champion Gaston Gaudio in 2003.
There was good news for British No 2 Aljaz Bedene who beat Daniel Gimeno-Traver??6-4 6-1 to advance through to the next round where he will meet third-seeded??Roberto Bautista Agut.
The??Slovenian-born British player, who reached the second round exit at Wimbledon, was playing on the dirt for the second week following his exit to??Croatian teenager Borna Coric in Umag.
Fourth-seeded Andreas Seppi and sixth-seeded Juan Monaco also advanced into the second round.