Stuttering Nadal marches on

Federer breezes past Stepanek to enter third round; Djokovic wins
Last Updated 16 April 2014, 17:21 IST

Claycourt machine Rafael Nadal recovered from a stuttering start to beat Russian qualifier Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-4, 6-1 and reach the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Wednesday.

The world number one, whose eight-year reign in the principality ended last year, conceded an early break but eventually proved too much to handle for Gabashvili on centre court. Nadal, who is on a 29-match winning streak on clay, fell 2-0 down but the Spaniard levelled in the sixth game by breaking to love.  The contest effectively ended there as Gabashvili failed to keep pace with the powerful left-hander.

Eight-times French Open champion Nadal, who has a 49-2 record in Monte Carlo after losing to Serb Novak Djokovic in last year’s final, next faces Andreas Seppi of Italy.
Earlier, former world number one Roger Federer barely broke sweat as he breezed into the third round with a 6-1, 6-2 thrashing of Czech Radek Stepanek.

The Swiss, who has a record 17 Grand Slam titles, will face another Czech, Lukas Rosol, after dismissing the experienced Stepanek in less than an hour on the Monte Carlo Country Club’s clay. Fourth-seeded Federer, back in the principality for the first time since 2011, saved two break points and claimed his opponent's serve four times in a quick master class.

Earlier, eighth seed Milos Raonic of Canada was made to work to overcome South Korea’s Yen-hsun Lu 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-1.

On Tuesday, Novak Djokovic opened his title defence with a 6-1, 6-0 demolition of Spanish qualifier Albert Montanes on Tuesday to reach the third round. In his first claycourt match of the season, the Serbian world number two won 11 games in succession from 1-1 in a 45-minute stroll on centre court.

Second round results (prefix denotes seeding): 1-Rafael Nadal (Esp) bt Teymuraz Gabashvili (Rus) 6-4, 6-1; Andreas Seppi (Ita) bt Pablo Andujar (Esp) 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 6-4; 11-Tommy Robredo (Esp) bt Julien Benneteau (Fra) 4-6, 6-0, 6-1; 4-Roger Federer (Sui) bt Radek Stepanek (Cze) 6-1, 6-2; 8-Milos Raonic (Can) bt Lu Yen-Hsun (Tai) 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-1; 10-Fabio Fognini (Ita) bt Roberto Bautista (Esp) 7-6 (9-6), 6-4.

(Published 16 April 2014, 17:21 IST)

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