Tue, Mar 17, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Nadal breezes into third round at Indian Wells

STAYING IN THE GAME: In women’s play, Dinara Safina managed to avoid the upset bug that saw 15 of the 32 seeded players ousted in the tournament’s second round


World No. 1 Rafael Nadal breezed past qualifier Michael Berrer and into the third round of the Indian Wells Masters series on Sunday.

Nadal downed Germany’s Berrer 6-2, 6-1 in just 67 minutes, encountering little resistance from the 28-year-old ranked 112th in the world.

Nadal, the 2007 champion in the California desert, broke Berrer in the opening game of each set and marched on from there.

“I played a very comfortable match,” said Nadal, who booked a meeting with Russian Dmitry Tursunov, a 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-3 winner over US qualifier Michael Russell.

Nadal, who won his fourth French Open title and first Wimbledon crown last year, boosted his hardcourt credentials with his Australian Open triumph this year.

But the 22-year-old Spaniard said he wasn’t entertaining thoughts of a calendar Grand Slam.

“I haven’t thought about that,” he said. “The true Grand Slam is not impossible, but really, really difficult. Right now, I only focus on trying to continue to improve my tennis.”

Last year it was Novak Djokovic who arrived at the first Masters series of the year as the Australian Open champion.

Seeded third this year behind Nadal and Roger Federer, the defending champion from Serbia admitted that he wasn’t on quite the same high now that he was at this time last year.

But he said his victory in Dubai two weeks ago, with the new racquet he has struggled to adjust to, showed he is moving in the right direction.

“This year hasn’t started maybe the way I thought I would, but now I’ve raised my confidence in a higher level,” he said. “Winning Dubai meant a lot for my confidence level and for my game overall.”

Djokovic defeated 54th-ranked Argentinian Martin Vasallo Arguello 7-5, 6-4.

He went up a break in each set, only to give it back, but managed to break again in each frame to seal the win.

Djokovic next faces German veteran Tommy Haas, who downed compatriot Rainer Schuettler 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 6-4.

Women’s top seed Dinara Safina of Russia had to work to book a fourth-round berth, beating China’s Peng Shuai 7-5, 6-4.

Safina, who has a chance to supplant the absent Serena Williams atop the world rankings by reaching the final of this WTA event, was up a break in the second set but gave it back before breaking Peng again to lead 5-4.

The Russian made no mistakes as she served for the match, finishing off with a love game.

“Suddenly I stopped in the middle of the second set,” she said. “I was like, ‘What am I doing? Just play!’”

Despite the lapse of concentration, Safina avoided the upset bug that saw 15 of 32 seeded women eliminated in the second round, including second-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, No. 3 Elena Dementieva and No. 6 Svetlana Kuznetsova, both of Russia.

In the fourth round she’ll meet US veteran Jill Craybas, who beat Czech Nicole Vaidisova 6-4, 6-3.

Fourth-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva also reached the fourth round with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic.

Zvonareva will play China’s Li Na, who upset former world No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo of France 7-5, 6-2.

Men’s sixth seed Juan Martin Del Potro rallied for a 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, 6-1 victory over wildcard Ryan Sweeting and seventh-seeded American Andy Roddick advanced with a 6-1, 7-6 (7/3) victory over Austrian qualifier Daniel Koellerer.

There was disappointment for France’s ninth-seeded Gael Monfils, beaten 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-4 by wildcard John Isner.

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