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Nadal to meet Moya in quarterfinals

Rafael Nadal defeats Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (7/5) in a fourth round tie which only lives up to the pre-match hype in the third set.

india Updated: Jun 05, 2007 18:31 IST

Double defending champion Rafael Nadal smothered the battling instincts of Lleyton Hewitt on Monday to move into the French Open quarter-finals and a clash with close friend and 1998 champion Carlos Moya.

Nadal, bidding to emulate Bjorn Borg by winning three Roland Garros titles in a row, defeated Australian Hewitt 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (7/5) in a fourth round tie which only lived up to the pre-match hype in the third set.

In Monday's other fourth round matches, Serbia's Novak Djokovic eased past Spain's Fernando Verdasco in straight sets. He will face unseeded Russian Igor Andreev, who came from a set down to beat Marcos Baghdatis, for a semi-final place.

"It will be nice to play Carlos. He's playing well and coming back," said Nadal who turned 21 on Sunday. "Im happy to see him in the quarter-finals but I hope he stops there."

Nadal's Roland Garros record now stands at 18 wins in 18 matches and the outcome of Monday's clash, a repeat of last year's fourth round match which the Spaniard won in four sets, was never in doubt.

Hewitt dropped serve twice in the first four games of the opening set, managing just four points in the process.

The Australian saved three set points as he broke back to trail 3-5 but then undid all his good work by handing the set to Nadal in the ninth game when he was broken for the third time.

The second set was even more one-sided with Nadal reeling off five games on the trot to open a two sets lead.

Hewitt's tenacity kept him in the tie and he sent the third set into a tiebreaker as Nadal was serving for the match at 6-5.

Hewitt, a former Wimbledon and US Open champion, nipped ahead in the breaker and was at 5-4 when he buried an easy forehand into the net.

There was to be no way back for the 26-year-old and Nadal claimed his quarter-final place when Hewitt again netted a dispirited forehand.

"He got off to a great start. He served well, a lot better than he did in Hamburg," said Hewitt who took a set off the Spaniard in their semi-final clash in Germany last month.

"He was hitting his forehand up the line accurately. He was in the zone early on and it was hard to press him. I just had to try and make a match of it in the third set."

Thirty-year-old Moya, the oldest player left in the competition, played his first Roland Garros in 1996 and was champion two years later.

"I'm the oldest guy left but I still remember when I was the youngest. Time passes so quickly that you don't realise it," said Moya who booked his last eight place by beating 35-year-old Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden 7-6 (7/3), 6-2, 6-4.

"But I am proud to be the oldest guy in the quarter-finals and I think I still have some very good tennis ahead of me." In contrast to Moya, 20-year-old Djokovic is the youngest player left standing.

The sixth seed continued Serbia's surge when he defeated unseeded Verdasco 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (7/1) to reach his second successive quarter-final.

Djokovic will be the third Serb to feature in the last eight with compatriots Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic already in the quarter-finals of the women's singles.

"It wasn't a great first week for me here. I played against players of much lower rank than me but today I was happy because I was up against a player who likes this surface," said the Serb. "To win in straight sets is a real positive."

Andreev reached the quarter-finals defeating Baghdatis 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-4.

Ranked 125th in the world, Andreev's win made him the lowest-ranked player to reach the last eight in Paris since Marcelo Filippini in 1999.

First Published: Jun 04, 2007 23:17 IST