Miami: World No. 1 Rafael Nadal launched his bid for one of the few titles to elude him by crushing Australian Lleyton Hewitt 6-1, 6-3 on Saturday to reach the third round of the Sony Open.
The Spaniard has won 62 titles, including 13 Grand Slams and 25 Masters series events, but a victory on the Miami hardcourts is not among them.
Three times Nadal has made it to the Miami final and the Spaniard served noticed that he plans to be back there again after disposing of Hewitt in just over an hour.
World No. 2 Novak Djokovic, a three-time winner in Miami, did not play on Saturday but became the first player through to the fourth round when his scheduled opponent Florian Mayer pulled out with a groin injury.
Stanislas Wawrinka survived a roller coaster start to his Sony Open campaign, advancing with a bumpy 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 win over Spain’s Daniel Gimeno-Traver. Nadal was happy with his performance against Hewitt.
With his victory in the opening round on Thursday, Hewitt joined Nadal and Roger Federer as the only active players with 600 or more career wins.
But while Nadal is a champion at the peak of his powers, Hewitt’s glory days are behind him, and so it proved in a one-sided contest on Saturday.
Seventh seeded Czech Tomas Berdych joined Wawrinka in the third round by dispatching Frenchman Stephane Robert 7-6 (5), 6-1 while big-hitting Croatian Marin Cilic, the 25th seed, was shown the exit by Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-2, 7-6(5).
John Isner continued to carry the American flag, battling back for a 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 win over compatriot Donald Young. Isner was left the last American man standing after Canada's big-hitting Milos Raonic, seeded 12th, dispatched Jack Sock 6-4, 7-6 (1) and Sam Querry was dismissed 6-4, 6-4 by Spaniard Nicolas Almagro.
On the women’s front, Serena Williams battled her way into the fourth round with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win over Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia on Saturday but the six-time champion hardly looked at home on the Miami hardcourts calling her effort unprofessional.
Fourth seed Maria Sharapova, a five-time runner-up in Miami including last year to Serena, was more upbeat about her performance coming out on top in a tough three-hour, three set battle with 26th seeded Czech Lucie Safarova 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-2.
Meanwhile, Mahesh Bhupathi and his South African partner Kevin Anderson went down fighting in a thrilling three-setter men’s doubles match against the pair of Alexander Peya of Austria and Bruno Soares of Brazil to crash out of the tournament.
The unseeded Indo-South African pair lost to their second seeded opponents 4-6, 6-4, 6-10 in a gruelling one hour and 28 minute first round contest of the hard court event.
The two pairs refused to give an inch to each other but the Indo-South African pair lost the plot in the deciding set.
Rohan Bopanna remained the only Indian in men’s doubles after he and Aisam-ul Haq Qureshi of Pakistan won their second round match against Italian duo of Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-2 in a 55-minute first round match.
In the women’s tournament, Sania Mirza and her Zimbabwean partner Cara Black, seeded fifth in the tournament, have advanced to the second round after defeating Taipei pair of Hao-Ching Chan and Yung-Jan Chan.