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Nadal reaches last 32

PARIS: World number one Rafael Nadal continued his bid for a fifth consecutive French Open title with a 6-1 6-4 6-2 crushing of Russian Teimuraz Gabashvili in the second round yesterday.

The Spaniard, unbeaten at Roland Garros since his debut in 2005, needed two hours 17 minutes to down the world number 72 and set up a last 32 meeting with former world No 1 Lleyton Hewitt, a player he has beaten twice already at Roland Garros in 2006 and 2007. The Australian was a 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 winner over Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan.

Nadal faced three break points in the opening game of the match but that was the highlight of Gabashvili's challenge on Suzanne Lenglen Court.

The four-times champion wrapped up a straightforward win on his first match point for a record 30th consecutive victory at Roland Garros, eclipsing Chris Evert's mark of 29 set between 1974-81. The American did not compete at Roland Garros between 1976-78.

In the first round Nadal surpassed Bjorn Borg for the longest unbeaten run for a man and a tournament win here on June 7 would make him the first to win five titles in a row in Paris.

Nadal though said that breaking records was not his priority.

"I came here to get a result without thinking about these records," he said. "I played better today and I am happy to be in the third round."

Third-seeded Andy Murray beat Italian Potito Starace 6-3, 2-6, 7-5, 6-4. The Briton trailed 5-1 in the third set but broke Starace three straight to win. Murray also reached the third round at Roland Garros last year but lost to Nicolas Almagro in four sets. In his only other appearance at the French Open, in 2006, he lost in the first round.

No 7 Gilles Simon of France, No 8 Fernando Verdasco of Spain, No 12 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile and No 13 Marin Cilic of Croatia also advanced, but veteran Fabrice Santoro played his last match at Roland Garros.

Santoro, who has made a record 67 Grand Slam appearances, lost in the first round of this year's French Open - his record-tying 20th - to Christophe Rochus of Belgium 6-3, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4. Santoro and Rochus started their match on Tuesday, but it was suspended by darkness with the Belgian leading 5-3 in the fourth set.

No 21 Dmitry Tursunov of Russia and No 28 Feliciano Lopez of Spain also lost.

Marat Safin was eliminated from his last French Open, losing to wild-card entry Josselin Ouanna of France 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4), 4-6, 3-6, 10-8 in the second round. The 20th-seeded and two-time Grand Slam champion from Russia has said he will retire from professional tennis after this season.



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