x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Nadal, Federer and Wawrinka through to third round at Monte Carlo

Straight set wins for all three players at the clay-court tournament in Monaco.

Rafael Nadal needed just 72 minutes to record a 6-4, 6-1 win against Russian qualifier Teimuraz Gabashvili. Sebastian Nogier / EPA
Rafael Nadal needed just 72 minutes to record a 6-4, 6-1 win against Russian qualifier Teimuraz Gabashvili. Sebastian Nogier / EPA

MONTE CARLO, Monaco // Grand slam tournament winners Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka all looked in sublime form as they progressed to the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters with straight set victories on Wednesday.

Top seed Nadal, champion at eight of the past nine editions, needed 72 minutes to record a 6-4, 6-1 win against Russian qualifier Teimuraz Gabashvili, who had led 3-1 early on.

Federer, seeded fourth at a Masters event that he has never won, looked in top shape as he romped to a 6-1, 6-2 thrashing of talented Czech veteran Radek Stepanek in 52 minutes.

Wawrinka, the third-seeded Australian Open winner, spent even less time on court, with his 45-minute match tying that of holder Novak Djokovic’s opening win the day before as the Swiss hammered Marin Cilic 6-0, 6-2.

Wawrinka won the first set in just 18 minutes, then “slowed” the pace.

Nadal rallied after trailing early against Gabashvili and never looked like recording what would only have been his third defeat at this event.

The top seed – who needs one win to bring up a half century of victories at this tournament – won six games in a row on his way to claiming the opening set and reaching 4-0 in the second.

A break by his opponent to make it 1-4 only delayed the inevitable, with Nadal getting the break straight back and then taking the match on his first match point a game later.

Nadal plays Italian Andreas Seppi in the third round after he defeated Pablo Andujar 7-6, 5-7, 6-4.

“I started slowly, but he was playing aggressively and hitting strong,” Nadal said.

“In the first match you want to find rhythm and play some long points.

“I felt comfortable in the second set, I think I was playing better.”

Federer was pleased with his level of play against his 35-year-old opponent who has posed problems for several of the top 10 players this season.

“I was able to get a lot of returns back into play,” the 17-time grand slam tournament winner said.

“On clay, when you have the upper hand from the baseline, it’s kind of hard to get out of it.

“I think that’s how it was for Radek today. I had a good start to both sets, then I was solid on my own service games.

“The next thing you know, you’re in the lead and you can hit freely. It was clearly a good match to start my clay-court campaign.”

The Swiss – who revealed that if his wife was to give birth to their third child close to the French Open in five weeks he would miss the Grand Slam event – will next play Stepanek’s compatriot Lukas Rosol on Thursday.

Canadian eighth seed Milos Raonic could prove to be a dark horse as he equalled his best showing in the tournament with a 6-7, 6-2, 6-1 defeat of Taiwan’s Yen Lu-Hsun.

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