Nadal, Federer edge closer to another classic clay final

May 1st, 2009 - 2:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Rafael Nadal Rome, May 1 (DPA) Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer rolled over outclassed opponents to edge closer to a showdown final between the top two at the Rome Masters.
Nadal closed out the month of April winning his 27th straight match on clay, crushing Swede Robin Soderling 6-1, 6-0 to reach the quarterfinals Thursday.

The World No. 1 suffered his last rare defeat on clay last year in Rome when he crashed in the second round against compatriot Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Nadal’s list of overall clay court titles includes four at the French Open, five in Monte Carlo and four in Barcelona.

“The match was really tough, not the result, but, yes, the match,” said the Spaniard. “I played really well. One of my best matches on clay sure this year. I don’t know of my career, but I’m playing at a good level, so I’m very happy.”

Second seed Federer took quick 6-4, 6-1 revenge against Czech Radek Stepanek as he hammered the quirky player who beat him a year ago at the event.

On-the-rise Federer unleashed his second ruthless victory in as many days at the Foro Italico, taking just 68 minutes into the quarters.

“I played very solid against him, I really told myself I have to be very disciplined in my playing today - the way I play my tactical game against him and just the way I have to focus,” said the 13-time Grand Slam winner.

“It was still a good match for me, I had to counter his pace because he’s trying to play hard and flat.”

Compatriot Stan Wawrinka, 2008 finalist against Novak Djokovic, failed to set up a re-match, losing in nearly three hours against Argentine fifth seed Juan Del Potro 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3.

“I’m really disappointed,” said Wawrinka. “I started the match poorly and couldn’t catch up in time.”

Two French players lost, with Spain’s Fernando Verdasco spanking Richard Gasquet 7-5, 6-4 and German Mischa Zverev beating number eight Gilles Simon 6-4, 6-1.

Holder Djokovic mowed down Tommy Robredo 6-1, 6-1 as the third seed played untouchable tennis to move into the last eight for a second year.

“I was in the control, I think I played quite patient, but then when I needed to step it up I did,” said Djokovic. “It was quite strange because Tommy was making a lot of unforced errors, so he didn’t put a lot of pressure on me.”

The Serb, who will compete in his own new event next week in Belgrade, secured a 5-1 career scoreline over the Spaniard, grabbing victory in just 63 minutes.

Djokovic will face Del Potro as he tries to put some distance between himself and number four Andy Murray, upset in the second round.

“I’ve been playing really well in the last two or three months regardless who is in front and who is behind me. I just focus on my game, and I’ve been playing really well. Let’s see if I can keep it up,” said Djokovic.

The win spoiled Robredo’s 27th birthday celebrations set for Friday, but left the 21-year-old Djokovic 28-9 on the year with February’s Dubai title in his pocket.

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