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Federer, Murray enjoy smooth ride in Madrid

WORLD No. 2 Roger Federer dispatched 14th seed James Blake 6-2, 6-4 to ease into the Madrid Open quarterfinals yesterday.

The Swiss was joined in the last eight by Andy Murray, who coped well with the blustery conditions in the Magic Box stadium to beat Spanish 16th seed Tommy Robredo 7-5, 6-1.

Federer, knocked out by Blake at last year's Beijing Olympics, laid down a marker in the opening game, breaking the American's serve with a crashing backhand return.

The 13-time grand slam winner, who has yet to win a title this year, wrapped up victory with a fifth ace on his first match point.

He will play the winner of the match later yesterday between sixth seed Andy Roddick and Nikolay Davydenko.

A single break of the Robredo serve in the 11th game of a tight first set and three more in the second were enough to seal a comfortable win for Murray and the Briton converted his first match point with a backhand return down the line.

The Scot, who turns 22 today, has never won a tour title on clay and is looking to improve his record on the surface ahead of the French Open which starts later this month.

He will play Juan Martin Del Potro in today's quarterfinals after the Argentine fifth seed battled past 11th-seeded Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 yesterday.

"It was tough from one end where the wind was blowing right into your face and Tommy was dictating a lot of points from that end in the first set," Murray said.

"I was just a little bit tense when I had my chances.

"I had a lot in the first set and didn't take them and played a little too passive," he added.

"The second set was much better and I started to dictate a lot of the points."

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are both seeking places in the quarterfinals against unseeded opponents.

Serbia's Djokovic takes on Italian Andreas Seppi next and Spaniard Nadal plays Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.

The world No. 1 is chasing a sixth title of the season and a fourth on clay while Djokovic is bidding for a fifth consecutive final appearance and a third title of the year.

Late on Wednesday, Nadal swept to a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Juergen Melzer, while Djokovic ousted Oscar Hernandez 6-3, 6-3.

The 27th-ranked Melzer failed to carve out any break points against Nadal, losing his own serve four times, and the Spaniard wrapped up the win on his first match point when the dispirited Austrian netted a limp forehand.

On the women's side, Dinara Safina opened her account by coming back from 2-4 down in the second set to beat China's Li Na 6-3, 7-6 (2).

Safina credited her rise to No. 1 last month with better fitness.

Two-time grand slam champion Amelie Mauresmo beat Elena Dementieva 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 on clay for the first time in 10 years in extending her record against the Russian to 10-6.

Kuznetsova, who beat Safina in the Stuttgart final then lost to her compatriot in the Rome final in the last two weeks, fell for the third time on clay to Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine 6-3, 6-2.


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