Tennis: Ram, Erlich make Monte Carlo quarters

Federer struggles in win over HIdalgo; Nadal eases into round 2.

ram erlich 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
ram erlich 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich progressed to the quarterfinals of the Monte Carlo Masters on Wednesday, defeating Paul Hanley and Leander Paes 4-6, 6-3, 10-3. The Israelis, who are seeded second in the prestigious 2,270,000 Euro event, will face on Thursday No. 8 seeds Jonas Bjorkman and Kevin Ullyett, who defeated the Polish duo of Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski in the second round. Also Wednesday, Roger Federer rallied from 5-1 down in third set to defeat Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (1) in the second round at Monte Carlo. The 12-time Grand Slam champion, who twice came within two points of defeat, won five straight games to take a 6-5 lead before heading to the tiebreaker. Federer then won the match when the 137th-ranked Ramirez Hidalgo hit a forehand long. "He really pushed me," Federer said. "He made it hard for me." Federer had 55 unforced errors in the match and looked shaky on his serve early, needing to save a break point in the fifth game of the first set. But Ramirez Hidalgo's unforced errors gave Federer a chance to serve out the set at 5-1. Federer outscored Ramirez Hidalgo 14-1 in winners in the first set, but allowed him back in the match with some errant play in the second set. After losing to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open semifinals, Federer lost to Andy Murray in the first round of the Dubai Open. Last month, the top-ranked Swiss lost to Mardy Fish in the semifinals in Indian Wells, California. "I am happy to have got through this," Federer said. "I lost the rhythm and I needed a bit of luck to come back into the match." Three-time defending champion Rafael Nadal of Spain advanced by beating Mario Ancic of Croatia 6-0, 6-3. The second-seeded Nadal took the first set in 22 minutes. "Starting the clay season like this always gives me more confidence," said Nadal, who is aiming for a fourth straight French Open title. "First match on clay after a long time. So, happy about everything." He next faces two-time champion Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain, who beat Jarkko Nieminen of Finland 6-3, 6-3. Federer reached 12 of 16 finals last year and won eight tournaments, but he needed five events to play a title decider in 2008 - his slowest start in eight years. He defeated Nikolay Davydenko at the Estoril Open on Sunday when the fourth-ranked Russian withdrew with a left leg injury. Davydenko defeated Simone Bolelli of Italy 6-2, 7-6 (5). "I didn't feel any injuries," the fourth-ranked Russian said. "My legs were OK." Davydenko easily beat Bolelli in the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Fla., on March 31 and went on to win the tournament. "It was much tougher for me on clay against him," Davydenko said. Fifth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain, No. 16 Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany and Gael Monfils of France also won in straight sets. Ferrer beat two-time Grand Slam champion Marat Safin of Russia 6-2, 6-3; Monfils saved a set point before overcoming Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 7-6 (8), 6-1; and Kohlschreiber defeated Nicolas Kiefer of Germany 6-2, 6-4. Janko Tipsarevic of Croatia advanced by beating Nicolas Lapentti 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-4.