Rafael Nadal overcame a minor bobble to rout Spanish compatriot Tommy Robredo for the fifth time in their career without losing a set as the top seed advanced with a comfortable 6-1, 6-4 result into the quarterfinals of the Shanghai Open Thursday.
Nadal lost serve to start the second set after roaring through the first but settled in for the victory. The world number two is fighting for recovery in form after going out listlessly last week in the Beijing semis to Maran Cilic.
“When you come back after injury, you can’t think more than the next day,” said the Spaniard who suffered with an abdominal muscle tear. “I say it every day: you are playing well, but it’s easy to have up and downs than when you are totally on the tour every week.
Second seed Novak Djokovic looked well on his way to backing up his Beijing trophy, third of the season, as he defeated German Rainer Schuettler 6-4, 6-2.
The Serb called victory “comfortable, but the important thing is that I played as much as I needed to win.” “I’ve been working on physical strength and fitness a lot in last couple of months, and it’s been paying off,” said Djokovic.
“It’s playing one of the key roles in the situations like this.
When you are playing week after week, it’s important to be physically strong, and that gives you advantage over your opponents.” Injury ousters have plagued the big event which stands a month from the end of the ATP regular season and prior to the eight man season wrap-up in London.
A pair of French seeds took a belting with both Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils knocked out quickly.
Swedish ninth seed Robin Soderling, like Monfils one of a potential 11 men still with hypothetical chances to earn one of the last three spots in November over Tsonga 6-3, 6-3.
The loss marked the end of the autumn Asian swing for the champion last weekend in Tokyo.
The 11th seed Monfils lasted only 37 minutes before quitting with back pain to hand over a 6-2, 3-0 win into the quarterfinals to Croatian veteran Ivan Ljubicic.
Russian sixth seed Nikolay Davydenko solidified in the chase for one of the three remaining spots in the eight man London event, earning his sixth defeat without a loss against Chilean Fernando Gonzalez 6-3, 7-5.
Davydenko, who missed three months of play with injuries early in the season, is just glad to be back on court healthy and will not stress over making the London cut with four weeks to go in the ATP regular season.
“I’ll enjoy a holiday if I don’t reach London. You can lose your mind worrying and lose in every tournament in the first round,” said the 28-year-old.
“If I don’t reach London, it’s good. I have more time to spend with my family and then prepare for next season. It’s been a long season.” Czech Radek Stepanek benefited from a retirement when Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland could not go on with abdominal pain, giving the 13th seed a 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 4-2 win.