on May 1, 2009 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Nadal crushes Soderling to reach Rome quarters

ROME (Reuters) – Top seed Rafael Nadal swept aside Swede Robin Soderling 6-1 6-0 at the Rome Masters Thursday to book a quarter-final with fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco while Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer also had easy wins.

Holder Djokovic breezed past 13th seed Tommy Robredo 6-1 6-1 to set up a last-eight clash with Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro and Federer beat the number 16 seed Radek Stepanek 6-4 6-1 to avenge last year’s defeat here by the Czech.

World number one Nadal, a three-time winner in Rome, made a slow start and needed six deuces to hold serve in the marathon second game. He soon found his stride though, unleashing some venomous forehands to break in the following game.

Nadal did not lose another game, although Soderling could have made it more interesting by taking better advantage of five break points in the first set.

“The match was really tough, not the result but the match,” the Spaniard told a news conference. “I was 4-1 up (in the first set) but I could also have been 4-1 down. It was one of my best matches on clay, certainly this year.”

Sixth seed Verdasco earned the right to meet his compatriot with a 7-5 6-4 triumph over France’s Richard Gasquet.

“It’s sure to be a really tough match. I was close to losing to him in Australia,” added Nadal referring to his five-set win over Verdasco in this year’s Australian Open semi-finals. “I’ll try to play aggressively, play like I did today.”

Djokovic’s Spanish opponent Robredo struggled to keep the ball in play throughout, giving away a break to love in the fourth game with a series of poor shots and another break in the sixth with a drop shot into the net.

Third seed Djokovic, who destroyed a racket in frustration when Albert Montanes troubled him in the second round, continued to bully Robredo in the second set.

Del Potro, seeded fifth, will face the Serb after fending off a fightback from Swiss number 10 seed Stanislas Wawrinka, last year’s runner-up, to prevail 6-2 6-7 6-3.

UNFORCED ERRORS

Stepanek’s strategy of attacking the net did not have the same unsettling effect as the last time he met second seed Federer in Rome, partly because of too many unforced errors.

The Swiss raced 4-1 ahead and broke serve in the final game of the first set to take it after Stepanek had rallied to 5-4.

Federer then produced some stunning winners to stroll home, wrapping up the match with an ace.

“This year was very different. I could read his first serve,” said the world number two, who is seeking his first title of the year.

“I didn’t have a problem to attack his serve, whereas last year I was just trying to get the ball into play and then obviously he was able to mix it up and make me doubt much more.”

“I had the control from the baseline. I’m really happy with the performance today. It’s just important that I work hard and get back to my best. I know I’m very close to it.”

Next up is German qualifier Mischa Zverev, who sprang a surprise by whipping French eighth seed Gilles Simon 6-4 6-1.

After knocking out Britain’s world number four Andy Murray Wednesday, Argentine qualifier Juan Monaco reached the last eight with a 6-4 6-4 win over Croatian 15th seed Marin Cilic.

It is the first time in the history of the men’s tournament in Rome that two qualifiers have reached this stage.

Monaco will now face Chilean Fernando Gonzalez, the 12th seed, who scraped past Austria’s Juergen Melzer 3-6 6-3 7-5.