Nadal, Davydenko cruise at Indian Wells

INDIAN WELLS: Twice champion and holder Rafael Nadal of Spain eased into the third round of the Indian Wells ATP tournament with a commanding 6-4 6-4 victory over Germany''s Rainer Schuettler on Saturday.

Fifth-seeded Russian Nikolay Davydenko also advanced, beating Latvia''s Ernests Gulbis 6-4 6-4, but eighth seed Marin Cilic of Croatia made an early exit, losing 7-6 6-0 to Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

World number three Nadal, who relishes playing at the California desert venue, broke his opponent in the seventh game of the second set before clinching victory in one hour 34 minutes on a blustery late afternoon.

The Spanish left-hander removed his red headband in celebration after a Schuettler backhand flew wide before approaching the net to shake hands with his opponent.

"Indian Wells is one of my favorite tournaments and I always feel like I''m at home here," a smiling Nadal said in a courtside interview. "I have very happy memories here."

The six-times grand slam champion had to contend with gusting winds on the stadium court at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden but he was overall pleased with his form.

"It was a good start in the conditions for me and I''m very happy," Nadal, 23, said. "It was difficult to adapt but I start the match playing well.

"Later, when I was playing in favor of the wind, it was very difficult for me with the backhand because I feel if I only touch the ball, the ball was out. It went too much.

"I feel really well with the forehand, and that''s very important to my game. Maybe I can play better in better conditions with the backhand."

Nadal, champion at Indian Wells in 2007 and again last year, will next meet Croatia''s Mario Ancic who came from a set down to beat Frenchman Julien Benneteau 4-6 7-5 6-3.

The six-foot five-inch Ancic played only five months on last year''s ATP Tour after being sidelined with a recurrence of mononucleosis and his ranking has since slipped to 694th.

"I know he had a very hard time at home," said Nadal, competing this week for the first time since shaking off the knee injury that forced him to abandon his Australian Open title defense in January.

"It will be a pleasure to play against him in the next round."

In other matches on Saturday, 10th-seeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco eased past Paraguay''s Ramon Delgado 6-4 6-1 while 11th seed Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain hammered Austrian Daniel Koellerer 6-3 6-0.