Third-seed Rafael Nadal got straight to work on the clay on Wednesday, spending just 70 minutes in crushing German Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-1, 6-3 to announce his bid for a fifth title in six years at the Rome Masters.
Unlike top-seed Roger Federer, who was shocked a day earlier by Latvian outsider Ernests Gulbis, Nadal insured that he would not meet the same fate as he thrashed Kohlschreiber for a sixth win from as many matches in their series.
Nadal moved through undeterred with 18 winners and four breaks of serve to reach the third round against Romanian Victor Hanescu.
Swedish fifth-seed Robin Soderling kept pace into the third round with his convincing 6-1, 7-5 win over Italian Paolo Lorenzi. Sweden’s 2009 French Open finalist struck seven aces and 32 winners in the rout.
Home hero Filippo Volandri dispatched one of two Frenchman on a sunny afternoon, defeating Julian Benneteau 6-2, 6-0. The Italian winner will next meet Gulbis. Colombian Santiago Giraldo showed more of the form he used on Monday to knock out former clay king Juan Carlos Ferrero, winning his second round match with France’s Michael Llodra 6-3, 6-2.
Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez ended the run of Australian Lleyton Hewitt 6-2, 6-3, with the two-time Grand Slam champion now headed home to lead his nation in a Davis Cup play-off — on clay in Brisbane — against Japan.
A victory would put the Aussies into a tie later in the year for a possible return to the elite World Group in the international team competition.