Defending champ reaches quarterfinals

Updated: February 12, 2004, 1:54 AM ET

VINA DEL MAR, Chile -- David Sanchez is working his way back to a familiar spot.

The defending champion from Spain marched into the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-4 triumph over Peru's Ivan Miranda on Wednesday at the $333,000 BellSouth Open.

Ranked 53rd in the world but unseeded here despite his 2003 success, Sanchez knocked off Juan Ignacio Chela in the opening round and advanced to the round of eight in relatively easy fashion.

Sanchez will face fourth-seeded Gaston Gaudio of Argentina in the quarterfinals. Gaudio bested countryman Jose Acasuso, 6-3, 6-3 in his second-round match.

"I felt very good and confident on the court. I really like playing here, and I am happy with my level of tennis," Sanchez said. "My goal here is obviously to try to defend my title, but I am taking one match at a time and I know I will have a difficult round against Gaudio."

Gaudio, a claycourt specialist, is seeking his third career title.

"As I haven't been playing much at all on clay, I am pleased with today's result," Gaudio said. "It is great to be in the quarters. Little by little, my game is getting together and [I] am getting more and more confident."

The lone evening match saw second-seeded Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil eliminate qualifier Franco Squillari of Argentina, 6-1, 7-6 (2). Kuerten cruised through the opening set but fell behind 4-1 in the second and faced set point before rallying.

"I played two very different sets," Kuerten said. "I had a lot of chances at the beginning of the second set that I couldn't take advantage of. When you have a player that has been in against the best players and you give him such chances, it definitely makes things more complicated."

Kuerten last appeared here in 2000, winning the title en route to assuming the world's No. 1 ranking later that year. He will face seventh-seeded Filippo Volandri of Italy in the quarterfinals.

Volandri easily dispatched Spain's Galo Blanco, 6-2, 6-0.

"It is going to be a tough match," Kuerten said. "Volandri had a great European clay season last year, and I will try to keep playing moving forward and relaxed. I think when you get to the quarterfinals stage, the tournament is open to anybody to win it"

First prize is $45,000.