Nadal Dismisses Stepanek, Dropping Just Four Games
Miami, USA
by Matt Fitzgerald | 25.03.2012
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World No. 2 Rafael Nadal moved swiftly into the fourth round of the Sony Ericsson Open Sunday, dismissing 25th seed Radek Stepanek 6-2, 6-2.

Nadal saved both break points he faced, and broke Stepanek twice in each set to clinch his sixth consecutive victory over the Czech in 87 minutes.

“I’m just happy to be in the fourth round, winning two matches with a positive feeling and with comfortable results,” Nadal said. “I’ll just try to keep doing well and try to keep improving my level a little bit.”

The Spaniard, looking to win his first trophy at Crandon Park after three runner-up finishes in 2005, 2008 and 2011, will square off against No. 16 seed Kei Nishikori next.

“He's a fantastic player and it will be a very difficult match for me,” said Nadal. “He has a big talent to hit the ball very early, to play very aggressive. So he will be a really tough opponent.”

Nishikori booked his place in the round of 16 with a 6-4, 6-2 win against Czech Lukas Rosol. The Bradenton resident won 78 per cent of his service points to advance past Rosol in 69 minutes.

The 22-year-old Nishikori is yet to defeat Nadal in their three previous meetings. Nadal beat the Japanese No. 1 in a second-round encounter last year in Miami.

Sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga topped No. 32 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 7-6(2). Tsonga fired 12 aces, winning 82 per cent of his first serve points against the German.

The Frenchman will aim to reach his third quarter-final at Crandon Park when he takes on 19th-seeded Florian Mayer, who upset Top 10 newcomer John Isner 6-4, 6-2 in the final match of the day.

Mayer broke the American three times to win back-to-back matches for the first time this year, improving to a 4-6 season record.

“I think you could see that John was maybe not a 100 per cent. He was tired from Indian Wells,” Mayer assessed. “So I knew I had a good chance and playing at night was better for me, because his serve was a little slower. After I broke him in the first set, after missing so many chances, he mentally broke [down] a bit. In the second set, I was able to break him in the first game. I served pretty good and he had no break points against my serve, which I think was the key to the match.”

“I just didn’t have it tonight. I had no patience,” said Isner. “I was flailing at balls and my feet weren’t underneath my shots. It definitely wasn’t my best effort out there. I felt like he played pretty well and was smart. He was hands down the better player.”

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