| Novak Djokovic returns against Oscar Hernandez at the Madrid Open on Wednesday. The Serbian won 6-3, 6-3. (AP) |
Madrid: Rafael Nadal barely broke sweat to beat Juergen Melzer 6-3, 6-1 in the second round of the Madrid Open on Wednesday and stay on course for a sixth title of the season and a fourth on clay.
Melzer, ranked 27, failed to carve out any break points against the Spanish claycourt master and lost his own serve four times before Nadal wrapped up the win on his first match point when the dispirited Austrian netted a limp forehand.
Nadal has only lost four times on his favoured surface in 152 matches since the beginning of 2005 and won three straight claycourt events at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome before coming to the Spanish capital.
The 22-year-old world No. 1, who begins his quest for a fifth straight French Open crown at the end of this month, will play unseeded German Philipp Kohlschreiber on Thursday for a place in the quarter-finals.
World No. 4 Novak Djokovic beat Oscar Hernandez 6-3, 6-3 in the second round earlier on Wednesday to stay on course for his fifth successive final. The Serbian third seed won a second title of the year in his native Belgrade at the weekend after losing in the final of the Masters events in Rome, Monte Carlo and Miami.
He took a nasty tumble at the start of the second set, slipping on the clay in the new Magic Box stadium and falling awkwardly, but recovered to break in the fifth and ninth games and sealed victory on his fourth match point when Hernandez went long with a sliced backhand.
Andreas Seppi is the Serbs opponent for a place in the last eight after the Italian beat American Sam Querrey 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
Fifth seed Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina went through when Czech Tomas Berdych retired from their second round match with a problem to his left leg after trailing 6-2, 4-1.
French eighth seed Gilles Simon beat Italian qualifier Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-2.
Swiss 11th seed Stanislas Wawrinka downed Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 7-5 and American 14th seed James Blake battled past big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 7-6 (7-4)
Belarussian teenager Victoria Azarenka, chasing her fourth Womens Tennis Association (WTA) Tour title of the year, dismissed Peng Shuai of China 6-4, 6-1 in the second round on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old seventh seed, who has won in Brisbane, Memphis and Miami, claimed six breaks on Pengs serve and will play Hungarian Agnes Szavay on Thursday for a place in the quarter-finals.
Russian sixth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova failed in her bid for a third straight final appearance when she was upset 6-3, 6-2 by Alona Bondarenko, her third loss on clay to the unseeded Ukrainian in three previous meetings.
Russian qualifier Vera Dushevina became the first player through to the last eight when she won her third-round match against Italys Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.
Serena and Venus Williams, the second and fifth seeds, are both already out of the tournament.
Meanwhile, Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles made a shock second round exit from the euro 3,700,000 event after losing in straight sets to Stephen Huss and Ross Hutchins in doubles.
The fourth seeded Indo-Bahamian pair, who got a bye in the first round, lost their pre-quarterfinal encounter 4-6, 5-7 to the Australian-Briton duo in one hour and 22 minutes.
Bhupathi and Knowles could convert just one of the four breakpoints in the match. Their rivals converted three out of four. With this defeat Indian challenge ended in the mens doubles as Leander Paes and his Czech partner Lukas Dlouhy have withdrawn from the tournament due to fitness problems of the latter.