Nadal leads the charge as top seeds advance in Miami

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Crushing victory: Rafa Nadal was in cruise control throughout.

World number one Rafael Nadal booked his place in the quarter-finals of the Sony Open after thumping 14th seed Fabio Fognini in Miami.

Nadal, who is bidding for a maiden title in this competition, dropped just one game against the overmatched Denis Istomin in his last match and was equally impressive in a 6-2 6-2 victory over Fognini.

The 27-year-old Spaniard did not lose a single point on serve in the first set, with Fognini pushed to the limit by the top seed's powerful groundstrokes.

Fognini was well below his best and fell 4-0 down before stopping the rot in the fifth game, but the Italian could not impose himself on Nadal's serve and duly lost the first set before being immediately broken at the start of the second set.

Nadal, a runner-up in this tournament on three occasions, was rarely stretched thereafter and duly wrapped up victory inside 62 minutes against an opponent who made 35 unforced errors.

The 13-time grand slam champion will next face 12th seed Milos Raonic in the last eight, with the Canadian ending lucky loser Benjamin Becker's run in the competition with a 6-3 6-4 victory.

Second seed Novak Djokovic was also rarely troubled in a 6-3 7-5 win over Spain's Tommy Robredo and he will next face Andy Murray, who defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 6-1, in a mouthwatering encounter.

Djokovic has an 11-8 lead in the head-to-head meetings with Murray but the Serbian will be champing at the bit for revenge after losing in the final of Wimbledon in 2013 when they last faced each other.

Meanwhile third and fourth seeds Stanislas Wawrinka and David Ferrer both exited the competition after suffering three-set losses.

Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka battled back from losing the first set to Alexandr Dolgopolov to take the match to a decider, where the 22nd seed found his rhythm to seal a 6-4 3-6 6-1 victory.

Ferrer, meanwhile, lost a gruelling contest against Japanese 20th seed Kei Nishikori, who triumphed 7-6 (9/7) 2-6 7-6 (11/9).

Nishikori will meet Roger Federer next after the Swiss hammered Richard Gasquet 6-1 6-2, while Tomas Berdych set up a quarter-final tie against Dolgopolov with a 6-3 7-5 win over home favourite John Isner.

In the women's event, world number one Serena Williams cruised into the semi-finals by crushing fifth seed Angelique Kerber 6-2 6-2 in 62 minutes.

She will face Maria Sharapova in the last four after the Russian sealed a 7-5 6-1 victory over fellow former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

However, Sharapova must end a dreadful run against Williams in order to progress to the final of this competition for the fourth successive time, having lost her last 14 meetings with the American. 

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Nadal and Wawrinka advance in straight sets in Miami

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Master in Miami: Wawrinka secured an easy victory in Florida.

Top seed Rafael Nadal and reigning Aussie Open champ Stanislas Wawrinka posted straight-set victories in the third round at the WTA and ATP Miami Masters hardcourt tournament on Monday.

French Open champ Nadal needed just 59 minutes to rout Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, 6-1, 6-0 while Wawrinka cruised into the fourth round with a 7-5, 6-4 dismantling of Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France at Crandon Park.

"I'm happy with the way I was fighting, the way I stayed positive in the game," said the 28-year-old Wawrinka. "Even if I was wasn't moving or playing so as well at the beginning, I stayed with him.

"I was fighting with myself to get control of the point."

Nadal, who has finished runner-up in this event on three occasions, will next face 14th-seeded Fabio Fognini, who battled back to beat Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Swiss Wawrinka will square off against Alexandr Dolgopolov after the 22nd-seeded Ukrainian rallied for a 3-6, 6-0, 7-6 (7/5) win over Dusan Lajovic.

Wawrinka has already won two titles this year, including claiming his first grand slam win in Melbourne in January. His best previous finish in Miami was a straight set loss to Nadal in the round of 16 in 2009.

Like Nadal, Canada's Milos Raonic barely broke a sweat on Monday.

Raonic, who dropped only five points on his serve in the match, reached the last 16 for the first time after being forced to withdraw from third-round matches with injuries the past two years.

"I just generally improved, especially on second serve returns (and) taking advantage more of those opportunities," Raonic said.

He next faces German Benjamin Becker, who beat Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 7-5.

"It's going to be a tough match but it's up to me," Raonic said. "I've got to play well. If I do, I can always give myself an opportunity to do well."

Seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych downed Portugal's Joao Sousa 6-2, 6-4, while 10th-seeded John Isner posted a 7-5, 6-3 victory over 18th-seeded Nicolas Almagro of Spain.

The American Isner will face Berdych in the next round.

On the women's side of the draw, world number one Serena Williams breezed into the quarter-finals while Russian fourth seed Maria Sharapova battled through three sets to advance.

Top-seeded defending champion Williams routed US qualifier Coco Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-1 in 78 minutes to book a last-eight matchup with German fifth seed Angelique Kerber.

Sharapova rallied to defeat Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 after two hours and four minutes while Kerber took six minutes longer to eliminate Russia's Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.

Williams smashed 17 winners to only 11 unforced errors and denied her compatriot on all six of her break-point chances to book her 13th quarter-final in 14 Miami appearances.

"It was a much tougher match than the scoreline showed," Williams said.

Williams owns a 3-1 career edge over Kerber, whose lone win came two years ago on the Cincinnati hardcourts.

"I feel better than I did in my first few matches, though, so I hope I can keep going forward," Williams said.

Four-time grand slam champion Sharapova, a five-time Miami runner-up, is still seeking her first title at the hardcourt event.

"It's not like I didn't have my opportunities in those finals. I just didn't take them. That's why you come back and hope for another chance," Sharapova said.

The Russian made 10 double faults, half of them in the first set, and served no aces but improved as the match progressed and in the final set won five of 12 points off the Belgian's first serve and seven of nine off her second serves.

Next up for Sharapova will be Czech eighth seed Petra Kvitova who beat Serbian 12th seed Ana Ivanovic 3-6, 6-0, 6-0.

Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia also advanced by beating Venus Williams 6-1, 5-7, 6-3.

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Miami round-up: Federer & Murray cruise into fourth round

Simon Foster 24/03/2014
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Marching on: Murray is defending his Masters title in Miami.

Two-time winner Roger Federer and defending champion Andy Murray eased into the fourth round of the ATP and WTA Miami Masters, producing efficient wins in heat and humidity Sunday.

Fifth-ranked Federer pounded Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker 6-3, 6-3 in just over an hour while British sixth seed Murray downed practice partner Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-1.

Ivan Lendl, the coach from whom Murray recently parted, was sitting in the player box to watch his former protege's triumph.

Federer, 32, broke for victory in the final game, with de Bakker saving a pair of match points but also double-faulting at a crucial moment. Federer secured his 21st match win of the season when a backhand from the Dutchman floated long.

"I'm feeling really good with my game," said Federer, who next faces French ninth seed Richard Gasquet. "My confidence is high and I'm moving well. I'm excited about how I've been playing."

Federer said he will need to gather information on Gasquet, whom he last played in November at the season-ending event in London.

"We've played many times and I'm not sure how he's playing right now," he said. "I have to find out a little bit."

Murray polished his record to 9-0 over Lopez in only 73 minutes. The Scotsman, who does much of his off-season training in Miami, improved to 21-6 in the US city.

"I don't know how hot it was, but when we came over at like 9:30 it was already 80 Fahrenheit (23 Celsius) and it was extremely humid. They are not easy conditions," said Murray.

He now faces French 11th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who outlasted Marcos Baghdatis 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 7-5.

Murray has won eight of their nine ATP meetings, the most recent last year on grass at Queen's.

Tsonga fired 16 aces

Tsonga trailed a set and was down 5-1 in the second-set tiebreaker when he suddenly found some much-needed form, rallying to win after two and a half hours.

The Frenchman fired 16 aces and needed only one break of serve to make the winning difference.

"It seemed like a very tough match," Murray said of Tsonga's win. "A lot of tight games towards the end. He did well to come back."

Also advancing was Chinese world number two Li Na, the reigning Australian Open champion who dispatched American Madison Keys 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.

Li spent nearly an hour surviving the first set, saving two set points on the serve of 38th-ranked Keys. The American committed a backhand error on her first chance and double-faulted on the second before Li got the break for 5-4 in a set which eventually went into a tiebreaker.

Li won the decider on the first of four set points to seize the momentum. She then saved a pair of break points in the final game and won after one hour, 41 minutes.

"It was a pretty tough match," Li said. "She played well, big serve, big forehand, especially when she was 3-1 down and then come back 5-3 up and served for the first set.

"During that time I didn't think about too much. I say, 'OK, try to hit the ball, try to do what you have to do, and I think saving the set points at least kept me in the first set.

"This changed the match a little bit, because after that I was feeling her level drop."

Li won despite seven double faults, 26 unforced errors and just 11 winners. She will next tackle either Carla Suarez Navarro or Kaia Kanepi.

Polish third seed Agnieszka Radwanska, last week's Indian Wells runner-up, beat Russia's Elena Vesnina 7-5, 6-3 and next meets highly-rated 19-year-old Ukrainian Elina Svitolina.

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