Wed, Oct 06, 2010 - Page 20 News List

Nadal makes a winning debut at the Japan Open

AFP, TOKYO

Maria Sharapova of Russia serves to her compatriot Elena Vesnina during their match at the China Open in Beijing -yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal made a winning start on his Japan Open debut yesterday, beating Santiago Giraldo of Colombia to join American Andy Roddick in the second round.

The 24-year-old Spaniard, who completed a career Gland Slam by winning the US Open last month, put his Thailand Open disappointment behind him with a solid 6-4, 6-4 victory.

Last week, Nadal made his Thailand debut in Bangkok but crashed to a surprise defeat to compatriot Guillermo Garcia--Lopez in the semi-finals on Saturday, having missed 24 out of 26 break points.

Nadal missed his first five chances to break, but finally cashed in, forcing Giraldo to mishit a backhand to move a break up at 3-2, before holding on to take the first set.

After saving two break points in the fourth game of the second set, Nadal again pulled off a break in the following game when he fired a sizzling forehand winner from the baseline.

Giraldo had another chance in the eighth game, only hit a backhand long.

He fired two aces in the following game to hang in at 4-5, but Nadal calmly served out for the match.

Second seed Roddick, the 2003 US Open champion playing his first match since New York, fended off the challenge from Japanese wild card entrant Tatsuma Ito 6-4, 6-3.

The American took the first set when Ito double faulted on set point.

Roddick was never in danger afterward, although he had to recover from a break down in the second set before finishing off the 82-minute match with an ace.

“He played very well in the first set. It was a little bit uncomfortable, because he hits every ball hard and flat and the court is very fast, so there wasn’t a chance to get into my rhythm,” 28-year-old Roddick said.

“In the second set, I don’t think he played as well, but on this fast surface, it’s certainly uncomfortable. Since New York, I’ve just been working on getting back my physical shape and I feel that I’ve been able to do that,” he said.

In other action, eighth seed Michael Llodra of France fell to Marco Chiudinelli of Switzerland 6-3, 6-0, but his compatriot and fifth seed Gael Monfils safely went through, beating Japan’s Go Soeda 7-6 (12/10), 6-4.

China Open

AFP, BEIJING

Top seed Novak Djokovic and his main rival Andy Murray breezed into the second round of the China Open yesterday, restoring some order to a draw thrown into disarray by upsets.

Djokovic, the world No. 2 and the defending champion in Beijing, showed little mercy to Chinese wild card entrant Gong Maoxin, wrapping up the 6-1, 6-3 win in just over an hour at the Olympic Green Tennis Center.

The 23-year-old Serb pummeled local favorite Gong — appearing in only the second ATP tournament of his career — from the backcourt, running him from side to side with ease, and broke his serve four times.

Murray, returning to action for the first time since a disappointing third-round defeat at the US Open, slammed 10 aces past French qualifier Paul-Henri Mathieu in an easy 6-2, 6-3 victory.

The 23-year-old Scot, the second seed, said he was happy with his performance, but acknowledged his fitness and health were still not 100 percent.

“It was a good first round. I started the match good and didn’t really give him any opportunities,” Murray, the world No. 4, told reporters. “I’ve been quite ill the last week. I started feeling better today, but I haven’t practiced that much on the court ... I’m a little bit stiff and sore.”

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