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Ferrero moves into quarterfinals

ROME, May 8 (UPI) -- No. 2 Juan Carlos Ferrero, the highest seed left in the Italian Open, rallied past Argentina's Gaston Gaudio on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals.

Ferrero stormed back for a 5-7, 6-0, 6-2 victory over Gaudio as the Spaniard continued the best start of his career. He is 31-6 this season, including 20-1 clay.

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In dropping Gaudio to 20-7 on clay, the 23-year-old Ferrero moved one step closer to his second straight title after winning at Valencia last week.

Next in line for Ferrero is 12th-seeded Rainer Schuettler of Germany, who posted a 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) win over eighth-seeded Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic.

"On the court I feel OK, but when I stop playing I feel very tired," said Schuettler, who is battling the flu. "I'll go straight to bed again and, hopefully, tomorrow I (will) feel better."

Fourth-seeded Roger Federer of Switzerland continued his impressive run with a 6-1, 6-1 crushing of over Tommy Robredo of Spain. He also is vying for consecutive titles after winning in Munich on Sunday. He also won titles this year in Marseille and Dubai.

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"Who expected this -- to beat Tommy Robredo on clay?" asked Federer. "I'm very, very pleased. The match went well from the start. I had the perfect game plan."

The 21-year-old Federer is one of the hottest players, having won 10 consecutive matches to run his record to a tour-best 34-6. He has not lost a set in his last eight matches on clay.

Federer takes on wild card and unheralded Italian Filippo Volandri, who beat Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-4.

"It was the biggest emotion I have felt since I've been playing tennis," Volandri said. "I had already reached the quarterfinals in Monte Carlo, but it's better being in a quarterfinal here in Rome, in front of your public. It's something very special."

Unseeded Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov came up with the upset of the day in a 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) victory over No. 3 Carlos Moya.

"Sometimes I even impress myself," said Kafelnikov, who has played in five Tennis Masters finals -- most recently in Paris two years ago -- but has yet to win a tournament. "I didn't know that I was going to come out and beat Moya today. That was unexpected. It's been a long time since I felt that excited."

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In his 10th appearance in Rome, the 29-year-old has never advanced past the third round.

Kafelnikov and three other top-half quarterfinalists are all unseeded, which assures an unseeded player of reaching Sunday's final. No unseeded player has won the Rome title in the Open Era since 1968.

His next opponent is Dutch qualifier Martin Verkerk, who bounced Jarkko Nieminen of Finland, 6-0, 6-3. Verkerk captured his first ATP title in Milan in February.

The other quarterfinal matchup pits the unseeded Felix Mantilla of Spain against Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia.

Mantilla beat fellow Spaniard and No. 7 seed Albert Costa, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1. Costa is the reigning French Open champion. Ljubicic was a 6-4, 6-3 winner over TMS Monte Carlo finalist Guillermo Coria of Argentina.

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