Spaniard world number one Rafael Nadal booked his ticket for a clash with local Gael Monfils, sweeping past unseeded Frenchman Florent Serra 6-2, 6-4. Swiss Roger Federer and Scot Andy Murray also advanced to the next round.
Top-ranked Rafael Nadal, the man he usurped as world number one, Roger Federer, and pretender Andy Murray all marched into the last 16 at the Paris Masters on Wednesday with straight sets wins.
French Open, Wimbledon and Olympic champion Nadal knocked Federer off his perch in August after the Swiss had spent a record 239 weeks at the top of the heap and looked fresh as he swept past unseeded Frenchman Florent Serra 6-2, 6-4.
Federer looked rustier in winning 6-4, 7-6 (9/7) against Swede Robin Soderling - a man he has now beaten eight times in as many meetings, while Murray was little troubled by modest US hope Sam Querrey as he steamed through 6-2, 6-4 to book a meeting with Spaniard 15th seed Fernando Verdasco.
Nadal, who has won a tour-leading eight titles in 2008, was never in danger against a man he has now beaten three times this year for the loss of just 11 games.
But Federer had to sweat in a second-set tiebreak against Soderling, who threw away two set points before the Swiss won through to a match with unseeded Croatian Marin Cilic.
"I think I did well, served well," Federer said. "I'm not giving away any really easy points."
Feisty Scot Murray is still on course to become the first man to win three straight Masters events after he blitzed Querrey.
After a bright start Murray, who triumphed in Cincinnati and Madrid, conceded his serve in the eighth game of the second set but broke straight back.
He then flunked three match points but stormed the net to put away a volley at the fourth time of asking.
"I was a bit disappointed to lose my serve - but the way I responded was pretty good," said the 21-year-old from Dunblane.
Also advancing was US 11th seed James Blake, who can still squeeze into the Shanghai Masters Cup after defeating Italian Simone Bolelli 6-7 (8/10), 6-3, 6-4.
Another Wednesday winner was Argentine David Nalbandian, who stunned Nadal in last year's final.
Nalbandian beat German veteran Nicolas Kiefer 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 to secure a third meeting in less than a month with Davis Cup teammate Juan Martin del Potro.
If Nalbandian beats his fellow Argentine here - the winner should face Murray - he could prevent Del Potro from appearing in Shanghai.
Both men will try to spoil Nadal's year after Shanghai at the Davis Cup final in Argentina - but the Mallorcan machine says he has has plenty in the tank after swatting aside Serra for his 81st win of the campaign.
"I know I have to keep on giving it everything to stay on top. But I'm someone who tries to have fun out there and that's what I'll keep on doing," Nadal vowed.
Next up for Nadal is Frenchman Gael Monfils and the Spaniard says he's ready for anything. "Every match is important - I always give my absolute best. I want to keep getting better."
Elsewhere, French tenth seed Gilles Simon moved on to a meeting with US world number six Andy Roddick by coming back from 0-4 down in the second set to see off Russian Igor Andreev 6-3, 7-5.
Russian sixth seed and 2006 champion Nikolay Davydenko ousted 2005 runner-up Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia 7-6 (7/5), 7-5 and next plays 2005 champion Tomas Berdych, who defeated Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka.
Date created : 2008-10-30