Coming up

Don't miss




"Todos somos Americanos"

Read more


Sydney siege: Australians show solidarity with Muslims

Read more


"Charlie's Country" director Rolf de Heer on the contemporary Aboriginal condition

Read more


Hunt for Joseph Kony and LRA militants continues

Read more


‘China needs Tibetan culture of peace,’ says Dalai Lama

Read more


Immigration in France: Hollande slams scaremongers

Read more


'Charlie's Country' director Rolf de Heer on the contemporary Aboriginal condition

Read more


Egypt: Gay community fears government crackdown

Read more


Taliban school massacre: At least 140 dead in Peshawar assault (part 2)

Read more

Nadal gets free pass into semi-finals at Barcelona Open

Latest update : 2009-04-24

Rafael Nadal has clinched his 23rd straight win on clay at the Barcelona Open. Thanks to Argentinian player David Nalbandian's withdrawal due to a hip injury, the Spanish world number one went straight to the semi-finals.

AFP - Rafael Nadal eased past Belgium's Christophe Rochus 6-2, 6-0 at the Barcelona Open on Thursday to claim his 23rd consecutive claycourt win before being handed a free pass into the semi-finals.
The Spanish world number one was due to take on David Nalbandian in Friday's quarter-finals, but the muscular Argentine was forced to withdraw with a right hip injury.
"I've never played Nalbandian on clay, this would have been a good challenge," said the top seed. "It's a pity that this had to happen to him."
The top-seeded Nadal had no trouble with the 61st-ranked Rochus, whom he beat in the Australian Open first round in January on his way to the title.
"It was a comfortable match for me," said the Spaniard.
Nadal, bidding for a fifth straight trophy at his home Real club in the Catalan capital, to match the fifth on the trot lifted last weekend in Monte Carlo, advanced in style on the regional St Jordi holiday, celebrated by red roses given by men to women and books the other way around.
The world number one was not in a giving mood as he blasted Rochus off the court in 55 minutes after the Belgian had upset 13th seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the previous round.
Thursday's victory was also the 23rd in Barcelona for Nadal, who lost his lone match at the venue against Alex Corretja in 2003 as a 16-year-old.
The top seed improved to 140-4 on clay since 2005 and stands 23-1 in clay court finals.
Fellow Spaniards David Ferrer and Tommy Robredo also went through.
Fourth seed Ferrer defeated Italian Potito Starace 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 in what he called "a very physical match" while 2004 champion Robredo overhauled Russian Igor Andreev 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Czech Radek Stepanek upset in-form Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 with the Swiss eighth seed falling to 12-7 for the season after taking six weeks off after the Australian Open to work on strength and fitness.
Wawrinka's hopes of building on the clay form which took him to the semi-finals in Monte Carlo last week, where he was ousted by Novak Djokovic, came undone in the final set.
The loss to 19th-ranked Stepanek has also thrown a spanner into Wawrinka's preparations for next week's Rome Masters where he was runner-up in 2008.
Stepanek now owns a 3-0 record in the series with Wawrinka, including a Barcelona win in 2005 and 2007 Davis Cup success.

Date created : 2009-04-24