Rafael Nadal continued his magnificent run of form on the ATP circuit with a comprehensive victory in his opening match at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters.
The second-seeded Spaniard took just 49 minutes to dismantle Frenchman Florent Serra in a 6-0 6-1 second-round win at the hardcourt event.
Nadal has won his last five events and has a 30-match winning streak since a second-round defeat to Juan Carlos Ferrero at Rome in early May.
The 22-year-old lost only 10 points in the opening set and won 75% of his return points, breaking Serra three times.
The Frenchman was able to hold serve after he trailed 3-0 in the second set but it proved inconsequential as Nadal moved a step closer to ending Roger Federer’s 235-week reign as world number one.
Nadal, who won his 30th career title on Sunday at the Rogers Cup, needs to win the tournament and hope defending champion Federer loses before the semi-finals in order for that to occur.
The Spanish ace will face Tommy Haas of Germany in the third round. Haas was leading Gael Monfils 5-1 when Monfils retired.
Nadal avoided a possible quarter-final with compatriot David Ferrer after the fifth seed was upset 7-6 (7/2) 3-6 6-3 by unseeded Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador.
World number three Novak Djokovic defeated Italy’s Simone Bolelli 7-6 (7/2) 7-6 (7/2) in the second round to set up a meeting with Italy’s Andreas Seppi.
Seventh-seeded James Blake, who is in the same quarter of the draw with Djokovic and is the best American hope following the late withdrawal of sixth seed Andy Roddick, reached the third round with an impressive 6-4 6-3 win over unseeded Frenchman Gilles Simon.
“I’m just as surprised as anyone,” said Blake, who faces Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis next.
“I figured it was going to be a really tough match. As much as it looked easy, it wasn’t. He’s a great player and makes you work for everything.
“He’s the kind of guy that gives you great rhythm, but really makes you beat him.”
Eighth seed Andy Murray got past unseeded American Sam Querrey 7-6 (7/3) 6-1 and will take on Russian Dmitry Tursunov, who ousted 11th seed Richard Gasquet 7-6 (10/8), 6-0.
Tenth seed Fernando Verdasco also advanced with a 7-6 (7/4) 7-6 (7/4) victory over Chris Guccione.
In the late night match, Spaniard Carlos Moya held a 7-6 (10/8) 1-0 advantage over Russian Nikolay Davydenko when the match was suspended by rain.