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Nadal Reaches Milestone With Opening Win

Madrid, Spain

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal surpassed Arthur Ashe in a career milestone.

Top seed Rafael Nadal began his quest for a fourth Mutua Madrid Open title on Wednesday with a 6-1, 6-0 performance against Argentina’s Juan Monaco in the second round.

Nadal converted six of 10 break points in the 69-minute victory, during which he served at 79 per cent.

"I think I moved better and played well, better than I normally play on the clay," said Nadal. "I was dominating over the points and playing very well. I think I've done positive things."

With the win, the Spaniard improves his FedEx ATP Win/Loss record to 684-134, surpassing Arthur Ashe’s 683-225 mark. Now at 11th place, Nadal must surpass Boris Becker’s 713 wins to enter the Top 10 in the all-time list.

"No matter how many victories I've had, I'm very happy that I can be compared to [Ashe]," shared Nadal. "To be on the same level with [a person] like him, it's always a great satisfaction for me."

The defending champion (d. Wawrinka), who also hoisted the Madrid trophy in 2005 and 2010, entered this year's event having suffered back-to-back quarter-final defeats in Monte-Carlo (l. to Ferrer) and Barcelona (l. to Almagro).

The 26-time ATP World Tour Masters 1000 champion next faces Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen, a 6-3, 6-2 winner over Igor Sijsling. The 27-year-old Nadal has not lost in seven matches against his 32-year-old opponent.

"It’s obviously the biggest challenge you can get - playing the World No. 1 and best player ever on clay," said Nieminen. "I’ve played [Nadal] many times. It’s nothing new. It’s another new great challenge and I’m looking forward to it."

Also on Wednesday, ninth seed John Isner needed two hours and 38 minutes to overcome Marinko Matosevic 7-6(9), 6-7(5), 7-5 in their second-round battle. Isner served 23 aces and won 79 per cent of first-serve points against the Australian in their first meeting. The reigning Auckland champion next faces fifth seed David Ferrer for a berth in the quarter-finals.

Spaniard Feliciano Lopez set a third-round meeting with 20-year-old Austrian qualifier Dominic Thiem, who upset Stanislas Wawrinka on Tuesday. Lopez rallied for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 15 seed Mikhail Youzhny.

"Sometimes you think because you're playing against the player that has killed a favourite, the draw is a little more open," said Lopez. "Sometimes that can be an error. I think Thiem is up there because of something, and tomorrow it's going to be a really tough match."

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