Speedy Spanish Seeds Limit Blue Clay Exposure
Spanish clay powerhouses Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer got on and off the controversial blue clay courts at the Madrid Masters as quickly as possible on Wednesday with the Iberian pair racing into the third round.
Second seed Nadal spent 80 minutes in winning his first match against Nikolay Davydenko since 2009, earning a 6-2, 6-2 victory. Fifth seed Ferrer dismissed Czech Radek Stepanek 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 in almost the same match time.
Nadal, leading critic of the dubious qualities of the Madrid surface being trialed amid huge controversy, tried to end talk of the courts and move onto the tennis.
"I played as good a match as I could in these strange circumstances," said the king of clay, winner of Monte Carlo and Barcelona titles last month. "I'm happy with the way that I played.
"The situation is not easy. This is a fantastic tourney, one of the best in the world. My motivation is strong to play here. I had a fantastic result today, I played better than I expected."
But Nadal added a final word on the issue.
"Conditions here are completely different than on the rest of the clay circuit. If this was in the summer or at the end of the season I would have nothing to say.
"I'm not against change but this is the wrong time of the calendar for it. I don't want to speak more on this."
Ferrer kept his comments completely non-controversial.
"They're a bit slippery but they are working hard to improve them," said the winner of three titles this year.
"It's not a question of criticizing, it's just going out on court and doing the best you can."
Croatian Marin Cilic overcame eighth seed John Isner 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/3) as the big American fired 14 aces in his losing effort. Cilic dodged a bullet with six double-faults including one as he held match points in the second-set tiebreaker.
Frenchman Gael Monfils continued his winning return after more than a month out with an abdominal injury as the 12th seed won as Russian Igor Andreev withdrew with a right shoulder injury trailing 6-3, 1-0.
"I'm not sure if this was an ideal scenario, but it's nice to relax with a quick win," said Monfils, who next plays Czech Tomas Berdych. "I still played 40 minutes with good intensity, and played well.
"I want to take it a step further and continue like this. It won't be easy against Berdych, but I'll try to attack and serve well."
Compatriot and 14th seed Richard Gasquet advanced over Viktor Troicki 7-5, 6-3 while Spanish 15th seed Fernando Verdasco needed nearly three hours to beat Alejandro Falla 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-4 to next face Nadal.
In the WTA second round, Czech Lucie Hradecka beat defending champion compatriot Petra Kvitova 6-4, 6-3 to send the third seed home.
Polish fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska brought an end to the 16-match win streak on clay of Sara Errani with a 6-0, 6-1 thrashing in 65 minutes.
Roberta Vinci struck a blow for Italy after Errani's loss, sending out Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 6-1, 6-2. Errani was fresh from the clay title in Budapest at the weekend.
French Open winner Li Na booked the first of the women's quarter-final places as she defeated 12th seed Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-4. U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur reached the last eight over Petra Cetkovska 6-3, 6-2.