CINCINNATI, Ohio (AFP) — Rafael Nadal steamrolled to another overwhelming victory this season, crushing Florent Serra 6-0, 6-1 on Thursday in the second round of the ATP Cincinnati Masters tournament.
The lop-sided victory took just 46 minutes and was the second runaway win for the world number two in less than three months. He also lost just one game in a dominating victory over German Denis Gremelmayr in the Barcelona semi-finals.
Nadal also lost only four games when he beat number 84 Serra, of France, at the Australian Open in January.
Nadal laid down another marker for Roger Federer, whose top ranking he is closing in on and now trailing by a hair-thin 300 points.
But the Spaniard refuses to peer into the future: "I'm focussed on Cincinnati, this is a very important tournament.
"If the number one comes it will be very difficult to achieve. I have to keep playing like I have for the last four months," said the Roland Garros and Wimbledon winner.
Dmitry Tursunov sent 11th seed Richard Gasquet packing, the Frenchman collapsing in the second set to go down 7-6 (10/8), 6-0.
Novak Djokovic timidly re-entered the rankings chase behind Nadal, the third-seeded Serbian advancing over Italy's Simone Bolelli 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/2).
Djokovic is being left behind as Nadal closes in on Federer. The Australian Open champion Djokovic trails Nadal by a massive 1,300 points and did not help his cause when he lost in the quarter-finals to Britain's Andy Murray during a Toronto title defence a week ago.
He came to that event with minimal confidence after going out in the Wimbledon second round to Marat Safin. But the Serb may not be quite ready to resume the fight.
"I'm just trying to focus on my game, on my career and my matches. That's my priority," he said. "I just want to improve."
The winner has advanced beyond the Cincinnati second round for the first time this week on his fourth appearance.
"I'm only 21. I don't want to put an extra pressure. I have enough pressure and expectations of being a favourite in most matches I get in.
"Thinking about number two or number one in the world would create an extra amount of pressure, which I don't need in this moment."
Eighth-seeded Scotsman Andy Murray and American seventh seed James Blake advanced with straight-set victories.
Blake continued the rescue of a modest hardcourt start, producing a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Frenchman Gilles Simon, who won the Indianapolis title earlier this month.
Murray dropped an early break but roared back over erratic American Sam Querrey for a 7-6 (7/3), 6-1 victory. The British number one looked healthy after tweaking his knee in Toronto. A scan showed him good to play this week.
Blake, who has won five of his 10 ATP titles at US events, has been trying to recover after second-round disappointments at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
He was badly let down in Indianapolis a fortnight ago, after winning the first set but losing a semi-final to Tursunov. Blake fell 6-1, 6-2 last weekend to Nicolas Kiefer.
Spain's fifth seed David Ferrer became the highest-ranked player to fall, going down in a struggle lasting two and a half hours to Ecuador's Nicolas Lapentti 7-6 (7/2), 3-6, 6-3.
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Photo credits: Daylife, Elmundo, Getty, Yahoo Sports, Cincinnati Inquirer, The Pulse Journal
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