BARCELONA (AFP) ― Top seed Rafael Nadal extended his current clay court win streak to 31 matches as the Spaniard overcame an early run of breaks to post a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Santiago Giraldo on Thursday at the ATP Barcelona Open.
Nadal is bidding for a sixth title at his “home” event in seven editions after missing 2010 due to treatment on a knee injury.
He moved into the quarterfinals in less than 90 minutes, surviving a first set with five breaks of serve against a South American opponent.
But Nadal did not hang about after securing the opening set. He took a 3-0 lead in the second and quickly closed it out.
The number one was last beaten on clay at Roland Garros in 2009 by Robin Soderling in the fourth round.
Nadal now stands an ATP-leading 26 wins and four losses this season. He is 27-1 in Barcelona.
He will on Friday face Gael Monfils, who beat French compatriot Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-6 (9/7) in their third-round encounter.
“It’s never easy against Giraldo because he has a good backhand and plays well from the baseline. When he’s playing well he can be difficult to stop. But I played well and didn’t make many mistakes,” said Nadal.
“Monfils will be a fantastic opponent. He’s difficult to play so I will have to be aggressive.
”It will be a tough match,“ added Nadal, who has a 7-1 record against the Frenchman.
”Monfils can attack as well as defend, you never know how he is going to come out and play. He’ll probably play very aggressively and I’ll have to try and defend.“
Seventh seed Monfils, a laid-back character in almost all circumstances, was deliberately refusing to consider the task ahead.
”I won’t think about the match now,“ said a reluctant Monfils, playing in only his second event since a wrist injury forced him out in February. ”I will prepare for it just like any other match.“
Monfils improved to 4-3 over his friend and compatriot Gasquet, not at his best after a pair of previous matches each lasting in excess of two hours.
”I got off to the better start, Richard started slow,“ said Monfils, who has played just ten matches this season. ”He did not come to the court in his best form today. I played aggressive from the start, that’s what won the match for me.“
Fourth-seeded Monte Carlo finalist David Ferrer got a Spanish win as he defeated Romanian Victor Hanescu 6-3, 6-2.
Austrian Juergen Melzer beat Spaniard Albert Montanes 6-7 (2/7), 6-3, 6-2 to earn a rematch of last weekend’s Monte Carlo semifinal which he lost to Ferrer.
Ferrer has a strong Barcelona history, playing the semifinals or better for the last four years and losing a pair of finals to Nadal.
Juan Carlos Ferrero, champion a decade ago, continued his injury comeback after eight months out with a defeat of Italian Simone Vagnozzi 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-4.
He plays compatriot and eighth seed Nicolas Almagro, whose 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 win over Nikolay Davydenko earned a career-first top 10 place.
Wozniacki into Stuttgart tennis semis
STUTTGART, Germany (AFP) ― World number one Caroline Wozniacki avenged her shock Miami defeat to Andrea Petkovic by battling back to beat the German crowd favorites 6-4, 6-1 and reach the Stuttgart semifinals on Thursday.
Despite finding herself 4-1 down after just 21 minutes of the first set, the 20-year-old Danish top seed roared back to break Petkovic, ranked 19th in the world, three times to take the opener.
Petkovic then ran out of steam and the 23-year-old had few answers as Wozniacki blazed into a 5-0 lead in the second set.
“It was tough for me to come back in the first set,” admitted Wozniacki, who has won her last seven matches after also winning the Charleston tournament.
“I am sorry I beat the home favorite, but I hope the crowd will support me now.
”I feel very good at the moment, my volleys were working really well, which they haven’t always done, and I played some good shots.“
Wozniacki will now play Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska in Saturday’s semifinal after the 22-year-old needed two hours to beat German wild-card Kristina Barrois 7-5, 6-3.