Nadal cruises into revenge match with Andreev
May 17, 2007 - 1:49:48 PM

Hamburg, May 17 - Rafael Nadal stretched his clay-court winning streak to 78 matches at the Hamburg Masters to set up a revenge match against the last man to beat him on the surface, Russian Igor Andreev.

Andreev beat Nadal April 8, 2005, in the Valencia quarterfinals. Since then, the Spanish sensation has built the biggest winning streak, of anyone, on any surface in the sport.

On Wednesday, he had to fight hard in the opening set before beating compatriot qualifier Oscar Hernandez, 7-5, 6-1, in the second round, his first match in Hamburg since 2003.

Andreev, meanwhile, ousted high-flying German Philipp Kohlschreiber, 6-7 -, 6-1, 6-4. The Russian has a protected 164 ranking after missing most of the 2006 season due to knee surgery.

Nadal refused to talk revenge, but rather said he faced another tough match against Andreev, whom he beat in a third-set tiebreak earlier this year in Dubai on hard court.

'It's nothing special. I wasn't playing well in Valencia - after coming from Miami. He - has an unbelievable forehand and hits with a lot of power,' said Nadal.

Earlier Wednesday, world No.1 Roger Federer was relieved after struggling to a 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 win over Argentine qualifier Juan Monaco in 1 hour 56 minutes.

Federer next meets 15 seed Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain, who on the stroke of midnight outlasted Russian Marat Safin, 6-3, 7-6 -, saving six set points in the dramatic tiebreak before winning on his fifth match point.

Play dragged on as the weather played havoc with the schedule, with rain setting in early and play soon only possible under the centre court roof. Organizers face a five-match backlog Thursday, with the winners set for double duty as the full third round is to be played as well.

Nadal faced stiff resistance from the 69th-ranked Hernandez, but the match was his once he broke for 6-5 in the first set. Nadal won seven games in a row to 5-0 in the second set and wrapped up matters two games later.

'It was a tough first set. It was cold, the court was slow,' said Nadal, who with the title Sunday would be the first player to win the three clay Masters - the others are Rome and Monte Carlo - in one year.

With all eight top seeds on a first-round bye, Federer was playing his first match since splitting with coach Tony Roche last week following a third-round loss in Rome.

He has not lifted a trophy in his last four tournaments, and the French Open, the only Grand Slam title eluding him, is just around the corner starting May 27.

'I feel relieved, I feel much better on court,' said Federer.

'It was definitely a hard-fought victory. I had to come out of a few tough situations. I wish my serve and forehand would have been better and that I had made less errors,' he said.

Federer piled up 44 unforced errors compared to 38 winners, blaming the stiff resistance of the 48th-ranked Monaco, lack of matches due to his unusually early exits recently and also the terrible conditions.

'The court was extremely slow, wet and sticky. It was tough to hit winners. It was a tough first round. I have not played many matches recently. I have to get back into the match groove and pick up as many victories as possible to go confidently into the French Open.'

Hamburg could be the right place to get back on track as Federer won his first clay title there in 2002 and also lifted the trophy 2004 and 2005. He didn't play in Hamburg in 2006.

He may also take heart from the fact that he played well when it mattered on Wednesday. At 4-4 and 30-30 in the final set he slammed a forehand winner and then broke when he forced Monaco to an error. Federer then wrapped up matters with an ace and a service winner.

Former French Open champion Carlos Moya rallied to a 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 - victory over Czech 10 seed Tomas Berdych in 2:24 hours, the only match completed outside centre court. Moya now meets American 8 seed James Blake, a 6-2, 6-3 winner over Arnaud Clement of France.

Australian 16 seed Lleyton Hewitt won 6-2, 7-6 - over Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela.

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