Sat, May 17, 2008 - Page 19 News List

Nadal spoils Murray's birthday

AP , HAMBURG, GERMANY

Britain's Andy Murray returns a shot to Rafael Nadal at the ATP Masters in Hamburg, Germany, on Thursday. Nadal won 6-3, 6-2.

PHOTO: EPA

Rafael Nadal had no birthday gift for Andy Murray, beating the Briton in straight sets on Thursday to join Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the Hamburg Masters quarter-finals.

Nadal won 6-3, 6-2 over Murray, who turned 21 on Thursday.

Federer breezed past Robin Soderling 6-3, 6-2. The defending champion is seeking his fifth title in Hamburg and next will play Fernando Verdasco, who upset fifth-seeded David Ferrer 7-6 (2), 6-2.

Third-seeded Novak Djokovic also advanced, beating Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (3), 6-3 to stay on course for consecutive titles after winning last week’s Rome Masters. Djokovic could replace Nadal as No. 2 in the ATP tour rankings next week.

But fourth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko was upset 7-5, 6-3 by Nicolas Kiefer, who became the first German to reach the quarter-finals of the home tournament since Tommy Haas in 1999.

Nadal was last year’s runner-up in Hamburg, one of his two losses on clay in 107 matches since April 2005. The other was last week in Rome, when he lost in his opening match to Juan Carlos Ferrero while suffering from a painful blister on his right foot.

“It was much better than yesterday, I had much more confidence on court,” said Nadal, who struggled to beat Potito Starace in the previous round. “It was a good match, I played very seriously.”

Nadal received treatment for blisters on his left hand, but was already 4-1 in the second set against Murray. Nadal did not seem to be in discomfort, unlike Murray who did not have an answer to Nadal’s power on clay. Murray ended the match with a meek forehand into the net, one of his 23 unforced errors. Nadal had only 11.

Verdasco, ranked No. 28, reached his second quarter-final of the year after Valencia, where he lost to Ferrer in three sets.

Djokovic leads the tour with three titles this year, including the Australian Open, his first major. Apart from Rome, he also won the Masters Series event in Indian Wells. Djokovic had never played Karlovic before and took some time to adjust to his big serve.

Andreas Seppi upset 12th-seeded Juan Monaco 6-0, 6-3 and No. 11 Carlos Moya outlasted Marat Safin, a two-time runner-up in Hamburg, 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-1.

In his first quarter-final match of the year, Kiefer will play Seppi, while Nadal faces Moya.

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