MONACO: There was so much wind coming off the Mediterranean on Tuesday they took the flags down at Monte Carlo – but that couldn't stop a raft of Spaniards reaching the second round of the Masters Series here.
Carlos Moya and Albert Costa joined holder Juan Carlos Ferrero in the second round – and then a new star appeared.
Moya, the 1998 French Open champion who lost last year's final to Ferrero, posted a 6-3, 6-3 centre court win over Belgian Xavier Malisse to set up a meeting with South Africa's Wayne Ferreira, a 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 winner over Swede Jonas Bjorkman.
Reigning French Open champion Costa proved too strong for Nikolay Davydenko, beating the Russian, who came here with a win at Estoril tucked under his belt, 6-2, 6-2.
Costa now faces a new teenage star in the making who has already gatecrashed the Spanish Armada's claycourt party.
Rafael Nadal, just 16, handed out a 6-1, 6-2 thrashing to Slovak Karol Kucera to show that Moya's description of him as the most talented youngster he has ever seen is no exaggeration.
“At 11 and 12 years old I was twice champion of Spain (in his age group). After that I continued,” said Nadal, nephew of Spanish international football veteran Miguel Angel Nadal.
Nadal is trying to combine studying with playing “but it's becoming more and more impossible because I'm never at home.”
Elsewhere, former French Open champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov moved into the last 32 by despatching Younes El Aynaoui, the Moroccan 11th seed, 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 6-1 as the red clay whipped up around their faces.
“It's a great feeling to win in windy conditions and against such a tough opponent as Younes. The very first year I came here I got to the semis (1994). I have a very good memory of that run here,” said Kafelnikov, who now meets Finn Jarkko Nieminen.
Kafelnikov shot to fame with his 1996 Roland Garros success – and Costa's profile has similarly been raised by his Parisian triumph last year even if he remains one of the quieter men on the circuit.
“Since I won the French people recognise me more and stop me in the street,” he observed.
Thai Paradorn Srichaphan squeezed past Australian Peter Luczak 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4) while US hope James Blake scored a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 win over Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia. – AFP