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Nadal Ruthless In Kukushkin Dismissal

Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal improved to a 41-1 match record in Monte-Carlo.

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal was ruthless in a 6-1, 6-1 dismissal of Kazakhstani qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin on Thursday evening at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.

The seven-time defending champion advanced to the quarter-finals in just 60 minutes as he broke serve five times from six opportunities and dropped only six points on serve. He improved to a 41-1 record at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournament, where he has not lost a match since the 2003 third round (l. to Coria).

"The match started in the perfect way," said Nadal. "I played much better than yesterday, in my opinion. More aggressive, more solid. My serve was much better. The return, too. In general today I was very happy with how I played."

The Spaniard has been trophy-less since Roland Garros in June last year, when he defeated Roger Federer to win his 10th Grand Slam championship. This season he has finished runner-up at the Australian Open (l. to Djokovic) and reached the semi-finals in Doha, Indian Wells and Miami.

The 25-year-old Nadal goes onto face Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka, who also impressed in a 6-3, 6-3 victory over eighth-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro. The No. 26-ranked Wawrinka has posted strong results on clay this season, with semi-final showings in Buenos Aires (l. to Almagro) and Acapulco (l. to Verdasco), and improved to a 13-6 match record.

Wawrinka is bidding to reach the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo for the second time (also 2009 – l. to Djokovic), but will have to overcome a 0-7 record against Nadal.

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