Rome, Italy (Sports Network) - Red-hot Rafael Nadal was an easy winner
Wednesday, while birthday boy Andy Murray retired from his second-round
match at the $3.475 million Italian Masters due to a back injury.
The fifth-seeded former world No. 1 Nadal rolled along with a 6-1, 6-3
spanking of Italian crowd favorite Fabio Fognini.
The Spanish superstar is riding an 11-match winning streak and seeking a third
title in three events. Last week's Madrid Masters champion has played in seven
finals in as many tournaments in 2013 and already piled up five titles since
returning from a seven-month injury layoff in February.
The clay-court king Nadal is a six-time champion in Rome and topped great
rival Novak Djokovic in last year's finale. Djokovic beat Nadal in the 2011
Nadal's next opponent will be talented Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis.
The third-seeded British star Murray, who turned 26 on Wednesday, lost the
first set and had just won the second against Spaniard Marcel Granollers when
the U.S. Open champ decided his week was over at Foro Italico. Granollers
prevailed 6-3, 6-7 (5-7) at this French Open tune-up.
"I have an issue with my lower back," Murray said. "It's been an issue for a
while. I would be very surprised if I was playing in Paris. I need to make a
plan as to what I do. I'll chat with the guys tonight and make a plan for the
next few days then make a decision on Paris after the next five days."
Murray was a semifinalist in Rome two years ago.
Meanwhile, fourth-seeded Spanish star David Ferrer came from behind to get
past fellow countryman Fernando Verdasco 5-7, 7-5, 6-3. The 2010 Rome runner-
up Ferrer's third-round opponent will be German Philipp Kohlschreiber.
More seeds exited the draw when 6-foot-8 rising Pole Jerzy Janowicz recorded
his third career top-10 win by dousing eighth-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried
Tsonga 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov advanced via walkover
when hot Swiss and 2008 Rome finalist Stanislas Wawrinka, seeded 15th this
week, pulled out of his scheduled second-rounder, citing a thigh injury, and
Frenchman Jeremy Chardy dropped 16th-seeded Japanese Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-1. A
busy Wawrinka appeared in finals in his previous two events over the past two
weeks, winning a championship in Portugal and finishing as a runner-up to
Nadal in Madrid.
Also on Day 4 in Rome, Gulbis clobbered Serb Viktor Troicki 6-1, 6-1;
Kohlschreiber erased Spaniard Albert Ramos 6-4, 6-1; Frenchman Gilles Simon
handled Russian veteran Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 6-3; and Benoit Paire outlasted
fellow Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 7-6 (7-4). Simon's third-
round opponent on Thursday will be Swiss icon Roger Federer.
Also on Thursday, the current world No. 1 star and two-time Rome champion
Djokovic will face the capable Dolgopolov.
The Sports Network