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Latest update : 2009-05-14

Spaniard Rafael Nadal punished Juergen Melzer 6-3 6-1 in the second round of the Madrid Open to stay on course for his sixth title of the season. Serb Novak Djokovic and Frenchman Gilles Simon (photo) also reached the third round.

REUTERS - Rafael Nadal barely broke sweat to beat Juergen Melzer 6-3 6-1 in the second round of the Madrid Open on Wednesday and stay on course for a sixth title of the season and a fourth on clay.


Melzer, ranked 27, failed to carve out any break points against the Spanish claycourt master and lost his own serve four times before Nadal wrapped up the win on his first match point when the dispirited Austrian netted a limp forehand.


Nadal has only lost four times on his favoured surface in 152 matches since the beginning of 2005 and won three straight claycourt events at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome before coming to the Spanish capital.


The 22-year-old world number one, who begins his quest for a fifth straight French Open crown at the end of this month, will play unseeded German Philipp Kohlschreiber on Thursday for a place in the quarter-finals.


World number four Novak Djokovic beat Oscar Hernandez 6-3 6-3 in the second round earlier on Wednesday to stay on course for his fifth successive final.


The Serbian third seed won a second title of the year in his native Belgrade at the weekend after losing in the final of the Masters events in Rome, Monte Carlo and Miami.


He took a nasty tumble at the start of the second set, slipping on the clay in the new Magic Box stadium and falling awkwardly, but recovered to break in the fifth and ninth games and sealed victory on his fourth match point when Hernandez went long with a sliced backhand.


"Maybe result-wise it looked easy but it was not easy, that's for sure," Djokovic said at a news conference.


"Madrid is different from other tournaments in other cities because it's at altitude and the balls are flying quite a lot and you don't get a lot of control," he added.


"So I was trying to produce a lot of spin and get into the rhythm and I've done a pretty good job today."


Andreas Seppi is the Serb's opponent for a place in the last eight after the Italian beat American Sam Querrey 6-3 4-6 6-4.


Djokovic said he was lucky to escape unhurt after he slipped over against Hernandez.


"I was aware that the surface was quite wet after they watered the court at the end of the first set and I was just thinking that something could happen and not really believing that something could happen.


"But I was lucky that I fell in the right way. So it was not a major injury."


Fifth seed Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina went through when Czech Tomas Berdych retired from their second round match with a problem to his left leg after trailing 6-2 4-1.


French number eight seed Gilles Simon, who lost to Andy Murray in the final of the Madrid Masters last October when it was still an indoor hardcourt event, beat Italian qualifier Fabio Fognini 6-3 6-2.


Swiss 11th seed Stanislas Wawrinka downed Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-4 7-5 and American 14th seed James Blake battled past big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic 6-7 6-4 7-6.



Date created : 2009-05-13