Nadal opens with resounding win at Madrid

May 14th, 2009 - 2:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Rafael Nadal Madrid, May 14 (DPA) Spanish clay king Rafael Nadal opened with a resounding 6-3, 6-1 win over Juergen Melzerwith to reach the third round of the Madrid Masters tennis.
“I played much better than I trained,” admitted Nadal, who had received a bye in the first round. “I’m very happy with this match, and how I’ve started the tournament. It is always special to play in Spain.”

The world number one Wednesday easily claimed his 31st consecutive victory on the dirt, a run which extends his clay record since 2005 to 148-4 with a 25-1 record in clay finals.

The Spaniard is hoping that the 500-metre altitude won’t affect his form as he heads to sea-level Paris for a run at a fifth straight title at Roland Garros starting a week from Sunday.

His last clay defeat came to Juan Carlos Ferrero in the second round in Rome, May 7, 2008. He is 17-0 on clay this year and has claimed five in a row at Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

The outspoken Nadal had voiced concerns about the state of the courts and the altitude at the weekend, to the dismay of officials.

However, he turned in a near-perfect performance with just three unforced errors in 61 minutes as he set up a Thursday match with Philip Kohlschreiber, who beat 13th seed Marin Cilic 6-1, 6-7(5), 7-6(2) in little less than three hours.

Third seed Novak Djokovic squeezed out a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Oscar Hernandez, taking a tumble on a wet court early in the second set but emerging unscathed.

“I was aware that the surface was quite wet after they were watering the court post first set. I was anticipating something of this kind.”

The 65th-ranked Hernandez was put out in just over 90 minutes with three breaks from 12 opportunities and 28 unforced errors balanced by 23 winners.

Djokovic is fighting to recover his long-time third ranking after Andy Murray stole it from him at the start of the week.

The Serb, who won his home event last week in Belgrade, next faces Italian Andreas Seppi, who beat American Sam Querre 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

“To be honest, it really motivates me even more to get back to the third spot or even go a step further. But I try not to pay too much attention to the rankings.”

Fifth seed Juan Del Potro sailed through into the third round when Czech Tomas Berdych quit while trailing 2-6, 1-4. The Argentine next plays Swiss 11th seed Stanislas Wawrinka, a winner over Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, 6-4, 7-5.

Number eight Giles Simon of France ousted Italian Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-2. American James Blake carried on the form which took him to the Estoril final, outlasting 26 aces from Ivo Karlovic, 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6 (4).

Women’s top seed and number one Dinara Safina had to fight past China’s Li Na to end with a 6-3, 7-6(2) result in her opening match since winning at Rome at the weekend.

Sixth seed Svetlana Kusnetsova, losing finalist in the Eternal City, could not maintain consistency after winning the title at Stuttgart. The Russian was upset by Alona Bondarenko of the Ukraine 3-6, 2-6.

Seventh seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus stopped Peng Shuai 6-4, 6-1 while Russian Vera Dushevina beat Francesca Schiavone of Italy 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

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