All of the ATP top five qualified for the next round at the Hamburg Masters in Germany. Rafael Nadal struggled to get rid of the tenacious Italian Potito Starace (6-4, 7-6), but it was an easy ride for the others. (Picture April 2008)
Both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic cruised into the third round of the Hamburg Masters Series here on Wednesday while clay-court king Rafael Nadal struggled through.
Nadal, number two in the world, needed more than two hours to make the last sixteen before he claimed a 6-4, 7-6 (8/6) win over Italy's Potito Starace.
Having made an early exit in Rome last week, again Nadal did not have things his own way here and had to save a set point on the second set before winning the tie-break.
"I didn't have much time to practice, because of a blister on my foot, so I am reasonably happy to get through," said Nadal who plays Britain's Andy Murray in the next round.
"I have had two tough games against Andy already this year and I expect the same."
But third seed and Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, who is closing in on Nadal's world number two status, wasted no time in blasting his way past Argentina's Juan Ignacio Chela 6-3, 6-1.
And Swiss master Federer needed less than an hour to see off Finland's Jarkko Nieminen 6-1, 6-3 and in the 18 sets the pair have now contested, during their nine previous matches, Nieminen has yet to win a single one.
"It was a good performance, I was happy with the way I served from the baseline," said world number one Federer, who beat Nadal in last year's final here.
"I have had so much success here, I have a good feeling about the place. When my first point went straight down the line, I thought 'This place works well for me'.
Other seeds fell elsewhere at the Am Rothenbaum stadium on a day of upsets.
Seventh seed James Blake was knocked out 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 by Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic and 13th-seed Tommy Robredo also crashed out to Croatia's Ivo Karlovic after losing 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3).
And Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 14th seed, made a sharp exit when he went down in straight sets 6-2, 7-5 to Sweden's Robin Soderling.
But former world number one Marat Safin continued his comeback with a straight-sets win over ninth-seed Tomas Berdych in the second round.
The Russian is building some momentum here having qualified through the main draw and will play Spain's Carlos Moya in the third round on Thursday.
Safin has plummeted down the rankings to 89th after suffering a series of injuries, but hit four aces on his way to knocking out Berdych, 11th in the world, 7-5, 6-4 in 90 minutes.
The 28-year-old Russian, who was runner-up here in 2000 and 2002, will play Moya in the third round after the Spaniard's 7-5, 6-3 win over Belgium's Olivier Rochus.
And there were no problems for Britain's Andy Murray or Argentina's Juan Monaco who enjoyed straight sets to make the third round.
Murray, who celebrates his 21st birthday on Thursday with a third round clash against Nadal, came through 6-3, 6-3 against France's Gilles Simon.
Monaco also made it through to the third round after the 12th seed breezed past Italy's Simone Bolelli 6-2, 6-1.
He will play another Italian in the third round when he faces Andreas Seppi who removed French number one and eighth seed Richard Gasquet on Tuesday.
Local hero Nicolas Kiefer reached the Hamburg third round for the first time since 2001 on Wednesday after he beat World No. 10 and last week's Rome finalist Stanislas Wawrinka 7-5, 7-5 on Centre Court.
Kiefer will play fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko in the third round on Thursday.
Date created : 2008-05-14