Nadal begins with a win at Madrid

October 15th, 2008 - 5:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Rafael NadalMadrid, Oct 15 (DPA) Top seed Rafael Nadal lit up the second day of his home Madrid Masters Tuesday, overcoming Latvia hope Ernests Gulbis 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 to reach the third round.Nadal, with eight titles this season including Paris, Wimbledon and the Olympics, gave a full-house crowd what they wanted in his opening match after a three-week-pause.

The world number one has claimed the home trophy only once, three years ago, stalling twice since in the quarter-finals.

Nadal last played as he led Spain past the US in crushing style and into a November Davis Cup final in Mar del Plate against Argentina.

Gulbis, 20, saved a match point in the final game after Nadal took late control with a break in the third.

The Spaniard next plays French 15th seed Richard Gasquet, who defeated American Mardy Fish 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-3.

Nadal said he had to fight through to victory. “It was a very tough match and and important one to win. “He fought back well in the second set, winning the important games.

“I pulled out my best game when I had to.”

Andy Murray took full advantage of a hobbled opponent, thrashing Italian Simone Bolelli 6-0, 2-1 with the Italian retiring owing to a shoulder problem in their second-round match.

The US Open finalist from Scotland who spent a welcome and extended stretch of time at home this autumn after losing in New York to Roger Federer, dropped just one point on serve in the first set.

The fourth seed next plays hot young Croatian Marin Cilic, a winner over Spain’s 13th seed Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 6-3.

“I was really happy with how I served and moved,” said Murray. “He stopped for a shoulder problem, but he seemed to be hitting his serve fine to me.”

Cilic and Murray played as juniors and in Davis Cup, but never at the ATP level. “He’s playing well on these courts,” said Murray. “It will be a tough match, I’ll have to play very well to win.

“He’s a danger here with the ball flying at altitude.”

Gilles Simon continued the Madrid misery for James Blake, keeping the American without a career win in the Spanish capital after a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 defeat in the second round.

In addition to five losses in Madrid, Blake was also embarrassed last April in a Barcelona debut. The loss leaves him trailing even farther as the points race to next month’s Masters Cup tightens.

Blake was playing for the first time since losing in the US Open third round. He skipped the Davis Cup semi-final which the US lost to Spain in a bullring across town in Madrid last month.

Playing in the first round, German Philip Kohlschreiber eliminated Spain’s Carlos Moya 6-2, 6-2 with Marcel Granollers getting one back for the hosts with his 6-4, 6-4 result over Paul-Henri Mathieu of France.

Frenchman Gael Monfils followed up his weekend Vienna final, defeating Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-2, 6-4.

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