Wed, Oct 18, 2006 - Page 20 News List

British duo knock out Spanish rivals

DOMINATION Andy Murray handled Ivan Navarro while Tim Henman imposed his game on Fernando Verdasco. Meanwhile Martina Hingis wrought destruction in Zurich


Britain's Andy Murray serves to Spanish player Ivan Navarro during the ATP Masters Series tennis tournament match in Madrid on Monday. Murray won 6-2, 6-4.


British duo Tim Henman and Andy Murray delivered a one-two punch for Britain at the Madrid Masters Series, advancing into the second round at the expense of Spaniards on Monday.

Henman, a week after losing in the final in Tokyo against Roger Federer, imposed his game on Spain's Fernando Verdasco in a solid 7-5, 6-3 win.

Andy Murray came third time lucky after a pair of recent losses in opening matches, reversing his run of poor form from Asia.

The world No. 20 was untroubled by Spain's Ivan Navarro Pastor in a 6-2, 6-4 victory which took 78 minutes.

Murray lost in the Bangkok first round to senior compatriot and part-time mentor Henman and went out the next week in Tokyo to Czech Jiri Novak.

The Scot was joined in the second round by Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan as the former quarter-finalist defeated Spanish qualifier Gorka Fraile 6-2, 6-2.

Paradorn, ranked 41st, exited in the first round a year ago.

Henman spent 53 minutes in softening up Verdasco in the first set. The Briton then consolidated with a 3-0 lead in the second before Verdasco reacted. But the Briton took the win with a crisp volley overhead.

Henman improved to 29-18 this season as he shows he's far from a spent force at the age of 32. He produced 29 winners and saved five break points.

Seeds had nothing to prove on opening day, with all 16 given first-round byes.

But Federer and second-seeded Spanish holder Rafael Nadal now know against whom they'll begin their campaigns at the penultimate Masters of the season.

Chile's Nicolas Massu will face Federer in the second round after advancing 4-6, 6-3, when former Roland Garros winner Gaston Gaudio retired with an upset stomach.

Nadal will start against US qualifier Mardy Fish, who produced a comeback over Xavier Malisse 5-7, 6-3, 7-5.

The US player, a former teenage housemate of Andy Roddick whose ranking has fallen to 56th after a long-running wrist problem, came through his fourth consecutive three-set match including weekend qualifying rounds.

His reward will be to play the villain against the home hero who lifted the title with a storming recovery from two sets to love down against Ivan Ljubicic a year ago.

Murray saved the only break point he faced while breaking opponent Navarro Pastor three times.

The Briton was pleased to get his game back on track after high hopes heading to the Far East last month.

"I obviously didn't play as well in Asia," said Murray, 38-23 near the end of a busy breakthrough season.

"I wasn't really worried about not having won. Any win is pleasing, but I wasn't any happier then any of the other matches I've won," he said.

In other first-rounds results, Frenchman Julien Benneteau beat Aljandro Falla of Colombia 6-2, 6-1 while Argentine Agustin Calleri ousted France's Florent Serra 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.

Juan Chela put out popular wild card Carlos Moya 6-3, 6-2.

Hingis comes home


Martina Hingis returned to the event she last left as a champion six years ago and defeated German Anna-Lena Groenefeld 6-0, 7-5 in the first round of the Zurich Open on Monday.

The Swiss Miss, who was unable to defend her 2000 title because of injury, later retired and instead only attended the event as a spectator and tournament assistant.

The floor was shaking from stamping feet as she made her entrance, and she didn't disappoint her supporters as she swept the first nine games against a curiously error-prone opponent.

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