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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, January 6, 2016

 
Rafael Nadal

"I played so well against a difficult opponent," said Rafael Nadal after defeating Robin Haase, 6-3, 6-2, in Doha.

Photo credit: Qatar Tennis Federation

Rafael Nadal showed his rally skills yesterday. Nadal was in no mood to play catch-up today.

The second seed broke serve in the second game and never looked back dismissing Robin Haase, 6-3, 6-2, to storm into the Doha quarterfinals for the seventh time.

More: Djokovic Rolls Into Doha Quarterfinals

Moving fluidly and changing direction sharply, Nadal served 73 percent, saved both break points he faced and played controlled tennis throughout the 65-minute victory.

"(It was) a very nice feeling, no wind. I'm very happy to be through," said Nadal, who rallied for a three-set win over former doubles partner Pablo Carreno Busta yesterday. "It was a great match. I think I played a very solid match. I played so well against a difficult opponent."

Though Haase won just 15 matches in 2015, Nadal knows the Dutchman can be dangerous. In their lone prior meeting at the 2010 Wimbledon, Nadal rallied from a two sets to one deficit to beat Haase.

In today's rematch, Nadal never really gave Haase much foothold in running rallies, raising his career record against Dutch opponents to 7-0.

Nadal streaked through 12 of the first 14 points building a 3-0 lead after only eight minutes of play.

Unveiling the serve-and-volley to exploit Nadal's chip return, Haase hit a high forehand volley holding for 1-3. The Dutchman earned a break point in the following game, but bungled a backhand trying to change direction down the line. Nadal used his biting topspin forehand to sustain command extending the lead to 4-1.

The world No. 5 slid an ace out wide holding for 5-2. When Haase buried a backhand into the bottom of the net, Nadal had a one-set lead after 31 minutes.

Nadal was nearly untouchable on serve, winning 15 of 19 points played on his first serve and seven of nine second-serve points in the set.

Haase did not play poorly; he served 70 percent, hit eight aces and attacked his shots. But Nadal drove the ball deep giving his opponent little to work with and when he wasn't running Haase wide, Nadal was feasting on his second serve. He won 10 of 14 points played on Haase's second serve.

Continuously driving heavy topspin into Haase's hip, Nadal drew a badly-shanked backhand breaking for 2-1.




Haase hits flatter and does not move as well as Nadal, which makes him vulnerable in running rallies. Trying to short points, he missed the mark as Nadal broke for the third time to seize a 5-2 lead.

"He's an aggressive player and I think he played well in the second set," Nadal said. "I think I played a great match. It was an opponent I respect so much. So I'm happy to be through."

Nadal closed in style with a slick forehand dig on his first match point. Continuing his quest for his first hard-court title since he beat Gael Monfils in the 2014 Doha title match, Nadal will face 79th-ranked Russian Andrey Kuznetsov for a place in the final four. He dropped just six games sweeping Kuznetsov at the 2015 Roland Garros.

"He's a player that hits the ball so strong and has good shots from the baseline so it's going to be a tough one," Nadal said of the quarterfinals. "I need to keep playing like this, like I did today, and I hope to take my chances."

 

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