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Rafael Nadal serves notice with Lleyton Hewitt scalp in pursuit of maiden Miami Masters

Rafael Nadal has won 62 titles but a victory on the Miami hardcourts is not among them.

Rafael Nadal crushed Lleyton Hewitt 6-1 6-3 on Saturday (USA Today Sports) Rafael Nadal crushed Lleyton Hewitt 6-1 6-3 on Saturday (USA Today Sports)

World number one Rafa Nadal launched his bid for one of the few titles to elude him by crushing Australian Lleyton Hewitt 6-1 6-3 on Saturday to reach the third round of the Sony Open.

The Spaniard has won 62 titles, including 13 grand slams and 25 Masters series events, but a victory on the Miami hardcourts is not among them. Three times Nadal has made it to the Miami final and the Spaniard served noticed that he plans to be back there again after disposing of Hewitt in just over an hour.

World number two Novak Djokovic, a three-time winner in Miami, did not play on Saturday but became the first player through to the fourth round when his scheduled opponent Florian Mayer pulled out with a groin injury.

Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka survived a rollercoaster start to his Sony Open campaign, advancing with a bumpy 6-0 3-6 6-3 win over Spain’s Daniel Gimeno-Traver. Nadal was happy with his performance against Hewitt.

“I think I played a solid match without many mistakes,” he told reporters. “I tried all the time to play the logical shot. “In general I have to be very happy. I think I did what I had to do today.” With his victory in the opening round on Thursday, Hewitt joined Nadal and Roger Federer as the only active players with 600 or more career wins.

‘Little bit stupid’

Third seed Wawrinka, playing just his second event since his milestone win in Melbourne, came out all guns blazing, blasting through the opening set in just 18 minutes.
However, things got much tougher on centre court for the Swiss and he needed nearly an hour and a half to finally tame Spaniard Gimeno-Traver.

“I started well first set,” said Wawrinka, now the number one Swiss player ahead of Roger Federer. “It wasn’t going that well but I was positive, ready. “Problem is I still have some up and down mentally. “I was negative in the second set, a little bit stupid, but then I’m really happy the way I started the third set.”

After Wawrinka stormed through the first set and held serve to open the second, the momentum suddenly swung Gimeno-Traver’s way and he claimed the early break to go up 3-2 and then broke the Swiss again to level the match.Wawrinka, however, steadied himself with a break to open third and again to close out the contest. With the victory Wawrinka pushed his season record to 14-1, a run that includes a pair of titles. “I know that if I play my best tennis I can be a favourite of the tournament,” summed up Wawrinka. “I know how well I can play.”

Seventh seeded Czech Tomas Berdych joined Wawrinka in the third round by dispatching Frenchman Stephane Robert 7-6(5) 6-1 while big-hitting Croatian Marin Cilic, the 25th seed, was  shown the exit by Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-2 7-6(5). John Isner continued to carry the American flag, battling back for a 6-7(5) 6-3 6-4 win over compatriot Donald Young. Isner was left the last American man standing after Canada’s big-hitting Milos Raonic, seeded 12th, dispatched Jack Sock 6-4 7-6(1) and Sam Querry was dismissed 6-4 6-4 by Spaniard Nicolas Almagro. German 13th seed Tommy Haas was a late withdrawal with a sore shoulder, handing Taiwan’s Lu Yen-Hsun a walkover into the third round.

Bhupathi crashes out

Mahesh Bhupathi and his South African partner Kevin Anderson went down fighting in a thrilling three-setter men’s doubles match against the pair of Alexander Peya of Austria and Bruno Soares of Brazil to crash out of Sony Open tennis tournament in Miami. The unseeded Indo-South African pair lost to their second seeded opponents 4-6 6-4 6-10 in a gruelling one hour and 28 minute first round contest.

Rohan Bopanna remained the only Indian in men’s doubles after he and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan won their second round match against Italian duo of Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini 6-3 6-2 in a 55-minute first round match. The seventh seeded duo play the Colombian pair of Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in the second round.
The third Indian in the men’s doubles, Leander Paes, and his Czech partner Radek Stepanek had also lost in the first round. In the women’s tournament, being held simultaneously, Sania Mirza and her Zimbabwean partner Cara Black, seeded fifth in the tournament, have advanced to the second round after defeating Taipei pair of Hao-Ching Chan and Yung-Jan Chan.

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