Federer, Nadal begin with wins in Paris

October 30th, 2008 - 2:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Rafael NadalParis, Oct 30 (DPA) Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer squeezed out straight-set wins to fine tune for next week’s season-ending date in China with opening victories at the Paris Masters.Top seed Nadal conserved valuable energy in a 73-minute win into the third round 6-2, 6-4 over Florent Serra Wednesday.

Federer was tested as solid Swede Robin Soderling forced him to save two set points before pulling away in a tiebreaker for a 6-4, 7- 6 (9-7) decision.

The win for Federer was his eighth without a loss against Soderling, with the 13-time Grand Slam champion losing just one set.

“It’s particularly dangerous, because he is playing well indoors, finals in Stockholm, a win in Lyon last week. I knew I was going to play a player who was on a roll,” Federer said.

“He’s got a big serve. It really suits the indoors well. I’m happy to be through. It’s a relief for me.”

Nadal confesses that he’s running out of puff in the closing stages of a long season, and every easy victory provides a fraction more time to rest and recover.

“I feel fresh like a freezer,” the number one joked, adding: “I’m a little bit tired after a long season, mentally and physically.

“I’m going to try my best in every match until the last point of the last tournament, just like always. Every match gives me more confidence for the next year, too.”

Nadal owns eight titles from 2008 including Paris, Wimbledon and the Olympics, and still has the Paris Masters, the Masters Cup in Shanghai and a late November Davis Cup final in Argentina to play, before he can pause for perhaps a month before the 2009 start.

The Spanish powerhouse produced a quick victory with 20 winners and three breaks of serve to go through for a next-round meeting with Frenchman Gael Monfils.

Nadal’s victory was his 81st of the season against just 10 losses. The Spaniard, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Nikolay Davydenko have already qualified for the eight-man yearend event in Shanghai.

Fourth seed Andy Murray dispatched US player Sam Querrey for the second time in three months, 6-2, 6-4.

The last three Shanghai places are being decided this week in Paris as the regular season ends.

German Philipp Kohlschreiber dealt a likely fatal blow to the season-ending hopes of Spain’s David Ferrer with a 6-3, 6-2 victory. James Blake saved his own ambitions as he rallied past Italy’s Simone Bolelli 6-7 (10-12), 6-3, 6-4.

Ferrer, seeded fifth, will be unable to make the trip to Shanghai as a direct qualifier next week, after losing while standing ninth in the chase. His only chance might lie as an alternate if any players ahead of him decline the trip or suffer injury.

Sixth seed Davydenko advanced in his opening match, defeating Croatian Ivan Ljubicic 7-6 (7-5), 7-5.

French 10th seed Gilles Simon strengthened his provisional eighth place for China as he defeated Russian Igor Andreev 6-3, 7-5 and will next play fellow contender Andy Roddick, who is sixth.

“I have five or six direct competitors,” he said. “I need to lose one a day. The ones who remain will be even more dangerous, because there will be less difference in our points.”

Eighth seed David Nalbandian, who has said he will not go to Shanghai even if he qualifies - he’s now joint 12th - defeated German Nicolas Kiefer 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 to line up against a familiar face.

For the third week in a row, the senior Argentine will meet his most dangerous domestic rival in Juan Del Potro, seventh for Shanghai.

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