Nadal exposes poverty of Serra's tactical plan

The world No 1, Rafael Nadal, eased past France's Florent Serra 6-2, 6-4 to book a place in the third round of the Paris Masters yesterday.

The Spaniard, already sure of topping the ATP end-of-year rankings, next faces another Frenchman, the 16th seed Gael Monfils, in his quest for a fourth Masters Series title this season. Serra had warned that he would attack Nadal, but he was no more than a punchbag for the top seed in the opening set, which Nadal won in less than half an hour.

The Frenchman rallied in the second set but, after wasting his only break point of the match, dropped serve and Nadal then held to complete the win on his first match point when Serra returned long.

France's Gilles Simon closed in on a place at the season-ending Masters Cup by beating the Russian Igor Andreev 6-3, 7-5. Simon, eighth in the ATP Race after reaching this month's Madrid Masters final, will all but secure a trip to Shanghai if his closest rivals do not reach the final here.

The 10th-seeded Simon twice recovered after trailing Andreev to set up a third-round meeting with the seventh-seeded American Andy Roddick. Simon went 3-1 down before winning six games in a row to claim the opening set. He rallied from 4-0 down in the second to snatch victory on his second match point.

The result means Argentina's David Nalbandian, who beat German Nicolas Kiefer 7-6, 6-3 earlier yesterday, must retain his Paris title to book a trip to China. He next faces compatriot Juan Martin Del Potro, who is seventh in the ATP Race and could lose and still book one of the three qualifying spots left.

Nalbandian took the first-set tie-break 7-5, broke in the second game of the second, and wrapped up the victory on his third match point.

Spain's David Ferrer, ninth in the ATP Race, suffered a 6-3, 6-2 defeat by the German Philipp Kohlschreiber and will not qualify for Shanghai unless there are withdrawals.

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