Fri, Jan 06, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Nadal, Federer reach quarter-finals

HEAD AND SHOULDERS:While Nadal and Federer racked up easy wins, continuing strong records over lower-ranked opponents, Tsonga struggled to beat No. 75 Flavio Cipolla

AP, DOHA

Rafael Nadal of Spain returns to Denis Gremelmayr of Germany during their third-round match at the Qatar ExxonMobil ATP Open Tennis tournament at the Khalifa Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha, Qatar, on Wednesday.

Photo: EPA

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer eased into the Qatar Open quarter-finals with lopsided wins in unusually cold and windy conditions on Wednesday.

Nadal routed German qualifier Denis Gremelmayr 6-2, 6-2 in temperatures that dipped to 13oC and will face Mikhail Youzhny of Russia. Federer overwhelmed Slovenian qualifier Grega Zemlja 6-2, 6-3 to set up a meeting with Andreas Seppi of Italy.

Nadal and Federer kept up their impressive records against lower-ranked opponents: The second-ranked Nadal extended his streak of beating players outside the top 100 to 45, while the third-ranked Federer made it 64 wins against players ranked outside the top 20.

Federer also won his 19th match in a row dating to his US Open semi-final loss to No. 1 ranked Novak Djokovic.

Federer and Nadal were joined by the sixth-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who saved two set points in the first set before beating Flavio Cipolla of Italy 7-6 (10/8), 6-3. Tsonga will face Albert Ramos of Spain.

In the late match, Gael Monfils got past Benjamin Becker of Germany 7-5, 4-6, 7-5. In the end, Monfils was able to take advantage of the erratic play of Becker, who had 49 unforced errors including a double fault and a forehand that went long in the final game.

Monfils, who plays Viktor Troicki of Serbia in the quarter-finals, sought medical attention after he hit his left knee with his racket in the second set. He said he had slight pain, but expected to play.

Also, sixth-seeded Alex Bogomolov Jr of Russia withdrew from the tournament with a right ankle injury, becoming the first seeded player not to advance.

Nadal, who last month complained he had too little time to prepare for the season, has come out strongly in Doha.

He broke the 189th-ranked Gremelmayr in the first game of both sets and was never seriously threatened. The match could have even been more one-sided, but Nadal managed to convert only four of 15 break points.

Nadal said he was starting to get a feel for his heavier racket. He said the variety of shots he unleashed was important if he was to play better in the big matches, especially against Djokovic, to whom he lost in six finals last year, including at the US Open and Wimbledon.

Tsonga, the third seed, struggled early on against the 75th-ranked Cipolla, who seemed to catch him off guard with his slice. Tsonga was broken to go down 4-3 and found himself down 5-4 with Cipolla serving for the set. However, he broke Cipolla and went up 6-5 before the Italian forced a tiebreaker, which Tsonga won.

Tsonga, though, picked up his game in the second set. Effectively deploying an array of drop shots and volleys, Tsonga broke twice for 4-1 and a third time to win the match with an emphatic overhead smash.

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