Davydenko eases into second round

IT'S ALL IN THE WRIST: The world No. 4 said his injured wrist was still giving him problems, but he showed few signs of discomfort against France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

AGENCIES , MOSCOWAFP, STOCKHOLMAFP, VIENNA

Wed, Oct 10, 2007 - Page 20

Russia's Nikolay Davydenko began the defense of his Kremlin Cup title in workmanlike fashion by beating unseeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6, 6-2 in the first round yesterday.

The opening set went with serve until the tiebreaker which the top seed won 7-0 before easing through the second to record a comfortable victory.

"It took me a few games to adjust and he was serving well, so it was hard to break him in the first set," said the Russian world No. 4, who has been nursing a wrist injury.

"My wrist is still giving me problems. It was painful for the first 10 minutes of the match and I had to play through it," he said.

Davydenko, who beat his Russian Davis Cup teammate Marat Safin in last year's final, is hoping for another good showing in Moscow to secure a place in the season-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai next month.

Fourth seed Paul-Henri Mathieu, who won his first career title here in 2002, also moved swiftly into the second round with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over fellow Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean.

Former world No. 1 Safin was to face little-known compatriot Denis Matsukevich in first-round action at the US$2.3 million indoor tournament later yesterday.

In the women's draw, fifth-seed Marion Bartoli of France breezed into the second round with a confident 6-2, 7-5 win over Ukraine's Alona Bondarenko in Moscow on Monday.

Bartoli, 23, placed 12th in the WTA rankings, looked in command from the start, breaking her opponent's serve midway through the opening set to lift herself one set up in 27 minutes.

The opponents traded breaks throughout the second set but Geneva resident Bartoli was slightly more accurate, winning the set and the match in one hour 46 minutes on the second matchball.

"I did not play my best tennis today by far but I managed to win and I'm happy," Bartoli said. "I like to play here and will try to move as far as possible."

"In the second set Alona played very good and it was not easy at all to win today. But I hope to perform much, much better in the second round," Bartoli said.

In the second round Bartoli will face Russia's wild-card Vera Dushevina, who experienced little trouble against Eleni Danilidou of Greece clinching a 7-5, 6-1 win.

Patty Schnyder of Switzerland, seventh seed here, barely broke a sweat when she ousted another Frenchwoman Emilie Loit 6-4, 6-1 in 53 minutes.

Sixth seed Jarkko Nieminen steadied his game after a wobble last week in Asia, crushing German qualifier Tobias Kamke 6-1, 6-2 on Monday to charge into the second round of the Stockholm Open.

The flashy Finn erased memories of a second-round loss in Tokyo where he was upset by No. 90 Serb Boris Pashanski.

Nienimen, who has honed his game from the start of his career in neighboring Sweden, looked invincible on his self-proclaimed "home court" at the Kungligahallen with victory in 67 minutes over Kamke, a 21-year-old ranked 254.

"A win is always a win, it gives you self-confidence," Nieminen said.

"I couldn't ask for more from a first round match. It was a very even performance compared to last week, I'm very happy with losing just one point on my own serve in the first set."

The German came up short in the first ATP-level match of his career, plagued by six double faults and five breaks of serve.

Nieminen will now have two days without a match, before resuming tomorrow against the winner from Germany's Benjamin Becker and Australian Peter Luczak.

"It's good to know that I play on Thursday and have doubles as well. That way, it won't be like starting the tournament again when I resume the singles," he said.

Nieminen has a proud history at the event, losing last year's final to American James Blake and reaching the 2001 final as a qualifier, where he was beaten by Dutchman Sjeng Schalken.

Spain's Albert Montanes won his opening match over Rohan Bopanna of India 7-6 (7/5), 6-1.

Ivan Ljubicic, playing for the first time since reaching the Beijing semi-finals more than three weeks ago, maintained his winning streak at the BA-CA Trophy in Vienna by beating Austrian qualifier Andrea Haider-Maurer 6-4, 7-5 on Monday.

The No. 3 seed, who had to withdraw from Croatia's Davis Cup tie with Great Britain because of a kidney stone problem, admitted he had not been at his best level in the first match of his return.

He conceded his serve for the first time in Vienna early in the match, but his emotions, as well as lack of match play, may have played a part in that.

"It's emotional for me to come back here and play again," said the 2005 and 2006 champion.