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Nadal Dismisses Kohlschreiber; Soderling Rebounds Strongly

Rome, Italy

Robin Soderling© Getty ImagesRobin Soderling improved to a 21-6 match record on the season.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal won his 55th consecutive match on clay in the month of April as he dismissed German Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-1, 6-3 Wednesday to reach the third round of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tennis tournament in Rome.

The Spaniard has not lost a clay-court match in the month of April since 2005 in the Valencia quarter-finals (l. to Andreev), a five-year spell that has seen him win 10 ATP World Tour titles – six in Monte-Carlo and four in Barcelona.

The 23-year-old Nadal opened his campaign for a fifth title at the Foro Italico in the same ruthless form that saw him lose just 14 games on his recent title run at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. The third seed converted four of six break points and surrendered just nine points on serve in the 70-minute match to improve to a 23-1 match record in Rome. He captured the title from 2005-2007 and again last year, with victory over Novak Djokovic.

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"It wasn't my best match but it was a correct match," said Nadal. "I did well, I played safe, I played focused all the time and Philipp tried to play more aggressive for a few moments but he made more mistakes than usual and that helped me a little bit. Philipp is a tough opponent and to play against him in the third round was a challenge for me. I am very happy about my victory."

Nadal next will face Romanian Victor Hanescu, against whom he has a 3-0 career record. "Hanescu is an aggressive player," said Nadal. "He has a good serve, he plays very aggressive from the baseline – he’s fast so he can be a very dangerous player. He focuses all the time and I'll have to play my best tennis."

ATP World Tour No. 7 Robin Soderling rebounded strongly from the disappointment of narrowly losing in the Barcelona final three days ago by defeating Italian wild card Paolo Lorenzi 6-1, 7-5 in his opening match.

The Swede recorded his fifth win in six clay-court matches this season in 74 minutes by saving all three break points he faced and capitalising on three of the seven opportunities he created on Lorenzi’s serve.

The 25-year-old Soderling has been in impressive form of late, reaching back-to-back semi-finals in Indian Wells (l. to Roddick) and Miami (l. to Berdych) prior to his run in Barcelona and earlier in the season captured his fifth ATP World Tour title in Rotterdam (d. Youzhny).

"I have won a lot of matches and so I'm quite confident and I'm feeling pretty good," said Soderling. "The body feels good. I know I've played a lot of matches and it's tough to stay 100 per cent focused all the time and so it is something you really have to work on but so far I feel really good."

Last year’s Roland Garros finalist will next take on Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, who won one point less overall than his opponent as he battled past No. 10 seed Tomas Berdych 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(6) in just over three hours. World No. 26 Wawrinka is a former finalist in Rome, finishing runner-up to Djokovic in 2008.

There was better news for Lorenzi’s fellow Italian, wild card Filippo Volandri, who broke serve six times as he crushed Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-2, 6-0 to set up a third-round clash with Roger Federer’s conqueror, Ernests Gulbis.

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