Former No. 1s Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer both eased into quarterfinal berths at their respective events on Thursday by identical scorelines. Federer, the top seed in Rotterdam, had no trouble with local favorite Thiemo de Bakker 6-3, 6-4. Federer, a two-time champion at the tournament including a win last year, will face Julien Benneteau tomorrow.
“It’s always good when you start the tournament late, to start strong,” said Federer. “If you want to win the tournament, you need to win five matches in five days. So it’s good to save energy. You relax a little bit once you reach the second or third round. I’m really happy to be back in Rotterdam and starting the tournament so well.”
Federer lost to Benneteau a few years ago at the Paris indoors, and nearly lost last year at Wimbledon, overcoming a 2-set deficit.
“I’m aware that he plays me tough and well. I know I’m in for a tough match,” said Federer. “He’s a really good player. He can take it to you by returning, serving [and] moving well. He’s a good anticipator. He’s won his matches convincingly, so he knows where his game is at and he’s found his range.”
Juan Martin Del Potro also advanced while the hot-handed Richard Gasquet was bounced by Marcos Baghdatis.
In South America, Rafael Nadal’s comeback resumed as the former No. 1 downed qualifier Joao Souza 6-3, 6-4. In the quarterfinals tomorrow he’ll meet Carlos Berloq. Second seed Nicolas Almagro was also a winner, and he moves on to a showdown Friday against the returning David Nalbandian.
On the WTA, Serena Williams is just one win from regaining the No. 1 ranking. The 31-year-old is in the quarterfinals of Doha where she’ll take on fellow Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. If she beats the Czech, she’ll become the oldest woman ever to rank No. 1.
“It’s awesome,” Williams said of the honor. “Since I didn’t do the youngest, I figure I’ll do the oldest.”
Serena has won 58 of let last 61 matches and she has not lost a set in three previous matches with Kvitova.
Also on Friday, Maria Sharapova meets Sam Stosur, Victoria Azarenka faces Sara Errani and Agnieszka Radwanska collides with Caroline Wozniacki. The current No. 1 Azarenka recorded her sixth career double bagel after a 6-0, 6-0 whitewash of American Christina McHale.
“I felt like I came out very focused, with a good mindset and a good game plan,” Azarenka said. “There were a few close games, but I felt like I was really taking advantage of every opportunity I had and not letting her play her game.”
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