Nadal rules as Murray crashes

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ROME, April 30 – Claycourt king Rafael Nadal was at his dominant best as he trounced Romania's Victor Hanescu 6-3, 6-2 to storm into the ATP Rome Masters 1000 quarter-finals at the Foro Italico on Thursday.Earlier Spanish 13th seed David Ferrer upset world number four Andy Murray 6-4, 6-4 while world number two Novak Djokovic had few problems in disposing of Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci 6-4, 6-4.

Nadal blasted 31 winners and broke Hanescu three times, winning in one hour 22 minutes, as he goes in search of a fifth title here in six years.

He broke Hanescu to love in the fourth game of the first set following a sumptuous backhand crosscourt pass and a forehand winner down the line.

Having served out the set the world number three broke the Romanian in the first game of the second after a pair of passes, one off each flank.

When he broke again for a 4-1 lead it seemed all over for Hanescu, although the Romanian briefly rallied but he could not convert any of four break points in the next game.

Nadal admitted that he had taken his foot off the gas.

"I stopped playing a little bit and relaxed. I played with less intensity at 4-1 and I was over-confident," he said.

"It’s impossible to play with less intensity at this level, he’s a good player."

Hanescu had one more break point in the final game of the match but having saved that, Nadal sealed victory with a smash.

The Spaniard now plays Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka who beat fifth-seeded Swede Robin Soderling 6-3, 6-2.

"That’s a big result, he’s playing well and will have a lot of confidence," said Nadal of Wawrinka.

Murray struggled badly with his serve throughout his match on his least favourite surface, recording a pitifully low 41 percent of first serves.

That gave clay specialist Ferrer the chance to attack the Murray second serve and he broke once in each set to secure the victory.

The 22-year-old Scot at times appeared listless as seen on the final point when he dropped a weak forehand into the net.

However, the Brit said he was happy with his performance.

"I thought it was a good match, a high standard, there were a lot of good points, I just didn’t convert my chances," he said.

"I didn’t make enough returns and he served a very high percentage so that was the only disappointing thing. I wasn’t able to create many break point opportunities because that’s normally the best part of my game."

Ferrer will face French seventh seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who comfortably dispatched Colombian qualifier Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 6-4.

Djokovic, who has a good record here having won the tournament two years ago and reached the final in 2009, will next face Spanish sixth seed Fernando Verdasco who beat countryman Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-4, 7-6 (7/2).

The pair played in the semi-finals in Monte Carlo a couple of weeks ago with an out-of-sorts Djokovic going down 6-2, 6-2.

"He’s had a great couple of weeks on clay and he’s certainly one of the best in the world at the moment," said the Serbian.

"He doesn’t make many mistakes and it will certainly be a tough match, I wouldn’t put myself as the favourite, for sure. But if I play the aggressive game I should play I’ll have a good chance."

The shortest match of the day came between 11th seed Ivan Ljubicic and Spaniard Felciano Lopez.

The veteran Croat came out for the warm-up but suffered a recurrence of a back problem and promptly retired before the first ball was hit in anger.

Ernests Gulbis, who stunned world number one Roger Federer in the previous round, reached the quarter-finals with a 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4) win over Italy’s Filippo Volandri.

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