Nadal and Blake ease into fourth round

INDIAN WELLS, California Mon Mar 17, 2008 7:41pm EDT

1 of 9. James Blake of the U.S. returns the ball against Spain's Carlos Moya during their match at the Pacific Life Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California March 17, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Danny Moloshok

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INDIAN WELLS, California (Reuters) - Spaniard Rafael Nadal stayed on course for his first ATP title of the year with a 6-1 6-3 demolition of American wildcard Donald Young in the Pacific Life Open third round on Monday.

The defending champion and second seed outplayed his 18-year-old opponent from the baseline, sealing victory in one hour, 22 minutes at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

"All matches are important for me, but especially here where I am defending my title because last year I played my best tournament here," Nadal said in a courtside interview. "I'm happy to come here to try to do my best."

The muscular Spaniard, who beat Serb Novak Djokovic in last year's final, broke Young in the first, third and seventh games to blast through the opening set.

In a match between two left-handers, the world number two broke again in the sixth game of the second set when the American teenager hit a forehand long before serving out for the win.

Nadal, who piled up six ATP titles in his 2007 campaign including a third successive French Open, will next meet either Paul-Henri Mathieu or fellow Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Earlier, ninth-seeded American James Blake powered past Spaniard Carlos Moya 6-3 6-4 to set up a fourth-round clash with Richard Gasquet of France, who crushed Argentina's Juan Ignacio Chela 6-2 6-1.

Urged on by partisan fans crammed round the Stadium Court, Blake dominated the former world number one from the baseline to seal victory in 75 minutes.

BREEZED THROUGH

After breezing through the opening set, Blake traded a service break with Moya in the second before again breaking his opponent in the ninth game to lead 5-4.

The 28-year-old served out to book his place in the fourth round, clinching the final point with a searing backhand winner down the line.

"I'm very happy. I've had a lot of tough matches with him and I think that evened the score," Blake told reporters after drawing level with Moya at 6-6 in career meetings.

"He's been the number one player in the world and he's a class act. Playing a guy like that, there's no way to expect to go through it smoothly so I'm really happy with getting through it in two sets."

Beating Moya at Indian Wells has special significance for Blake who defeated the Spaniard for the first time at the 2003 Pacific Life Open.

"To beat him here when I felt like I was playing really well the first time was a big stepping stone in my career," the American said. "Today brought some fond memories."

Later on Monday, third-seeded Djokovic was scheduled to play Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber in an evening match.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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