Madrid – Spain's Rafael Nadal, who has made no secret of his displeasure with the blue-clay courts being used at this year's Mutua Madrid Open, shook off those concerns Wednesday to dismiss Russia's Nikolay Davydenko 6-2, 6-2 in his opening match.
The Spaniard - a finalist the past three years at this event - capitalized on the erratic play of his 30-year-old opponent, who is now far from the player once ranked No. 3 in the world.
Nadal was especially efficient on his service games, throwing down six aces, winning 80 percent of his first-serve points and not allowing his opponent a single break point.
From the baseline, the world No. 2's high level was reflected in the statistics: 19 winners and just 12 unforced errors over the course of the 80-minute match.
With the win, Nadal broke a four-match losing streak against the Russian and narrowed the latter's career edge in their head-to-head to 6-5.
"Enough's been said about the court. (World No. 1 Novak) Djokovic talked about it (Tuesday) and I've already said what I had to say," Nadal said in the post-match press conference when asked about the blue-clay surface being used in this year's tournament as opposed to traditional red clay.
Tournament officials made the change, among other reasons, to make it easier for television viewers to follow the ball.
Djokovic said after his first-round win that the surface was extremely slippery, while Nadal noted following his victory that the feel of the blue clay was far from that of a traditional clay court.
"I played much better than I expected," Nadal said. "I'm very happy to be in the third round and tomorrow I'll probably have a very difficult match against (fellow Spaniard Fernando) Verdasco," who has never defeated his countryman in 13 matches, the most recent of which was played two weeks ago in Barcelona.
With the second-round win, Nadal recorded his 11th-consecutive victory of the clay-court season, a stretch that has included titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona. All of those wins have been in straight sets, including one over Djokovic in the Monte Carlo final that halted a seven-match losing streak.
Nadal will square off against Verdasco, who rallied for a 6-7 (4-7), 6-4, 6-4 win over Colombia's Alejandro Falla, in Thursday round-of-16 action.
The world No. 2 has won the Madrid event on two occasions, once in 2005 when it was played on indoor hard courts and the other time in 2010.
In other second-round play Wednesday involving Spanish players, David Ferrer defeated Czech Radek Stepanek 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 and Nicolas Almagro got past countryman Marcel Granollers 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).
Among the Latin American contingent, Argentine Juan Martin del Potro knocked off Russia's Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 7-6 (7-1) and Argentina's Federico Delbonis fell to Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (6-8), 6-3.
In a match that finished just before midnight, Swiss great Roger Federer survived a scare against big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic but prevailed 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4).
The Mutua Madrid Open is one of the biggest clay-court events on the tennis calendar and a key tune-up for the French Open, which gets underway later this month.