Federer crashes out of Madrid Open as Nadal advances

Serena Williams also breezes through to quarter-finals

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates winning a point against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia during their men’s singles match at the Madrid Open tennis tournament. Photograph: Susana Vera/Reuters

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates winning a point against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia during their men’s singles match at the Madrid Open tennis tournament. Photograph: Susana Vera/Reuters

Thu, May 9, 2013, 18:37

Rafa Nadal remained on course for a possible semi-final clash with great rival Roger Federer when he thumped unseeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny 6-2 6-3 to claim a spot in the last eight of the Madrid Open today.

The Spanish world number five fell in the third round of the clay Masters event last year but never looked under pressure against Youzhny and showed his recent seven-month injury layoff had not robbed him of any agility. He thrilled the home crowd at the Magic Box arena when he sealed victory by chasing down a Youzhny drop shot and whipping a forehand across court before indulging in one of his trademark fist pumps.

A former world number one and the current French Open champion, clay king Nadal slipped down the rankings after he was sidelined by a knee injury but has won four titles since his return in February and is chasing a third triumph in Madrid.

“We are just doing what we can every day,” the 26-year-old Majorcan said in an interview with Spanish television broadcaster La Sexta when asked about his physical condition. “We are in the quarter-finals and it makes me very happy to have another chance to play in Madrid in front of these magnificent fans,” he added. “It’s not the time to be talking more than necessary. I will try to enjoy every moment as much as possible.”

On the other side of the draw, third seed Andy Murray can secure his place in the last eight with a win against Gilles Simon later on Thursday. Briton Murray has a 10-1 winning record against the 16th-seeded Frenchman, his only defeat coming in the Rome Masters in 2007 in their first meeting. Murray’s chances of reaching the final were boosted when Serbian world number one Novak Djokovic, who he could have met in the last four, was dumped out by unseeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov on Tuesday

Meanwhile, a laid-back Serena Williams breezed into the women’s quarter-finals on Thursday when she barely broke sweat in a 6-3 6-1 drubbing of Maria Kirilenko. The world number one and top seed, defending champion , needed just over an hour to dismiss the 13th-seeded Russian and set up a last-eight meeting with Spanish wildcard Anabel Medina Garrigues.

“I just felt really relaxed today,” Williams told a news conference. “I felt like I was just taking my time,” the 31-year-old American added. “So hopefully I can keep calm and relaxed.”

Williams, chasing a fourth title of the year and the 50th of her career, was joined in the quarter-finals by second seed Maria Sharapova who knocked out unseeded German Sabine Lisicki 6-2 7-5. The Russian world number two and French Open champion will play Slovakian wildcard Daniela Hantuchova or unseeded Estonian Kaia Kanepi for a place in the last four.

Medina Garrigues, a former world number 16 now ranked 63rd, went through today after her opponent Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan withdrew with an arm injury.

“She’s definitely going to be really tough for me,” Williams said of the Spaniard. “She’s a grinder on clay and she’s Spanish. I know a lot fans really like her here.”