MADRID – Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal breezed into the Madrid Open third round with their title defenses facing little strain on Wednesday, while Andy Murray made a successful return to clay after nearly a year’s absence.
Williams broke Shuai Peng three times in a 6-2, 6-3 win that was her 14th straight on the clay of the Magic Box tennis center, where the top-seeded American dominated her Chinese opponent on serve by firing 11 aces.
Williams, who moves on to face Spanish player Carla Suarez Navarro, looked fresh and focused while dismissing any injury fears despite a heavily wrapped left leg.
“I just had some issues and went preventive to make sure I didn’t make anything worse,” said Williams. “I’m literally taking it one day, one match at a time, and not putting any pressure on myself.”
Nadal, meanwhile, certainly fed his confidence with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Juan Monaco of Argentina, just what the top-seeded Spaniard needed after coming to the Spanish capital on his worst clay run in a decade.
Nadal, the greatest ever player on the red surface, failed to advance past the quarterfinals of his last two clay tournaments. But after Monaco broke to get to within 2-1, Nadal did not relent as he didn’t drop another game at Manolo Santana center court.
“Each victory helps to raise your confidence,” Nadal said. “I started a little nervously in my movement. I think I moved better and played well, better than I normally play on the clay. I was dominating over the points and playing very well.
“I think I’ve done positive things.”
Nadal’s hopes of winning were bolstered on Tuesday when Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka lost and Roger Federer withdrew for the birth of his second set of twins.