SPORT

Nadal has it easy against Rochus

BARCELONA: Flawless Rafael Nadal mowed down Belgian Christophe Rochus 6-2, 6-0 on Thursday, winning his 23rd consecutive match on clay as he reached the quarterfinals of the Barcelona Open.

The top-seeded Spaniard had no trouble with his 61st-ranked opponent, whom he beat in the Australian Open first round in January on his way to the title.

No holiday mood

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 No. 1 was, however, 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.

Nadal will take his impeccable clay game into a Friday contest with burly Argentine David Nalbandian, who put out Spain’s tournament number 10 Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 6-4, breaking four times.

Physical match

Fourth seed David Ferrer defeated Italian Potito Starace 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 in what he called “a very physical match” while 2004 champion Tommy Robredo overhauled Russian Igor Andreev 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Czech Radek Stepanek upset on-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.

The results:

Third round: David Nalbandian bt Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 6-4; Radek Stepanek bt Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4, 1-6, 7-5; David Ferrer bt Potito Starace 4-6, 7-5, 6-2; Tommy Robredo bt Igor Andreev 4-6, 6-2, 6-3; Rafael Nadal bt Christophe Rochus 6-2, 6-0; Nikolay Davydenko bt Feliciano Lopez 7-6(8), 3-6, 6-4. — Agencies

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