MONTE-CARLO ROLEX MASTERS 2014
Nadal Claims 300th Clay Win To Reach QFs
by ATP Staff|
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal became the 11th player in the Open Era to record 300 tour-level clay-court wins on Thursday as he defeated Andreas Seppi 6-1, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.
The 27-year-old Nadal won his first clay-court match 12 years ago in Mallorca against Ramon Delgado. His victories on clay have seen him capture 43 tour-level titles, including eight Roland Garros crowns.
In his first meeting for five years against Seppi, Nadal improved to a 5-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against the Italian as he claimed victory in 74 minutes. The Mallorcan converted all five of his break points and won 82 per cent of his first serve points. Seppi converted his sixth break point in the seventh game to stage a short-lived fightback in the second set, but Nadal won the final two games.
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“I think today I played a little bit better than yesterday,” assessed Nadal. “For a long time I was playing at a good level, I think, changing directions very well and playing with the right intensity. At 4-1 in the second set I stopped a little bit with my legs. Seppi is a player that takes the ball early. If you are not playing from inside, you are in big trouble. I lost a little intensity, made a few mistakes. I was lucky to have the break back again.”
Nadal is bidding to win his ninth title at this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament. He won eight successive trophies between 2005-12 before being dethroned by Novak Djokovic in the final last year. The Mallorcan won five of the coveted Masters 1000 trophies last year, taking his Open-Era record tally to 26.
For a place in the semi-finals at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, Nadal will face sixth-seeded countryman David Ferrer, whom he leads 21-5 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. The pair last met on clay in the 2013 Roland Garros final and also contested the final at in Monte-Carlo in 2011, both of which Nadal won.
"David is a tough, tough player on any surface," said Nadal. "But here on clay, it's always a big challenge. I have played a lot of matches against him, very tough ones. If you are not at your top, top level, it is very difficult to win. I need to be ready for that."
Ferrer advanced with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Grigor Dimitrov. The Valencia native broke the 12th-seeded Dimitrov five times as he claimed victory in one hour and 36 minutes. It was his 21st win of the season, highlighted by winning his 21st ATP World Tour title in Buenos Aires (d. Fognini).