200-up Nadal on course to reclaim title

RAFAEL NADAL buried his French Open demons to chalk up his 200th victory on clay and waltz into the quarter-finals at Roland Garros.

The four-time champion suffered a shock defeat to Robin Soderling at this stage last year, but never looked in any danger of repeating the feat, comfortably beating young Brazilian Thomasz Bellucci in straight sets.

Bellucci, playing in the last 16 of a Grand Slam event for the first time, carved out numerous break points but the world No2 kept his head to win through 6-2, 7-5, 6-4.

Nadal now faces fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro in the quarter-final after he dumped out countryman Fernando Verdasco 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 to reach the last eight for the second time.

Third seed Novak Djokovic remained on course for a third semi-final in four years after overcoming brave Robby Ginepri 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.

The Serb now takes on in-form 22nd seed Jurgen Melzer of Austria, after he ended Russian qualifier Telmuraz Gaabashvili’s brave run, coming through 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4

Women’s singles favourite Justine Henin, meanwhile, suffered a surprise defeat to seventh seed Samantha Stosur.

Four-time champion Henin, who ended her 18-month retirement in January, won the opening set but Australia Stosur bounced back impressive to win 2-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Stosur now faces top seed Serena Williams in the last eight after the American proved too strong for Shahar Peer, easing through 6-2, 6-2 in just one hour and seven minutes.

World No4 Jelena Jankovic is also through after beating Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 6-2 and now plays Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova, who continued her fine run in the tournament with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Australia’s Jarmila Groth.


Roger Federer (Swi) (1) v Robin Soderling (Swe) (5)

Tomas Berdych (Cze) (15) v Mikhail Youzhny (Rus) (11)

Jurgen Melzer (Aus) (22) v Novak Djokovic (Ser) (3)

Rafael Nadal (Spa) (2) v Nicolas Almagro (Spa) (19)

Serena Williams (USA) (1) v Sam Stosur (Aus) (7)

Jelena Jankovic (Ser) (4) v Yaroslava Shvedova (Kaz)

Francesca Schiavone (Ita) (17) v Caroline Wozniacki (Den) (3)

Elena Dementieva (Rus) (5) v Nadia Petrova (Rus) (19)