Nadal fans breathe a sigh of relief as Rafa squeezes past Ernests Gulbis at the Madrid Masters on Tuesday night.

Madrid favourite Nadal survives Gulbis scare



Originally published on 26/02/10 11:17

World No.1 Rafael Nadal had to produce some gutsy tennis to see off talented young Latvian Ernests Gulbis in his opening match in Madrid on Tuesday night.

After a second-set wobble, the top seed and local hero got his game back on track in time to record a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 second round victory over the world No.54.

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It was the second time this year that 20-year-old Gulbis had caused problems for Nadal after stretching him to four sets at Wimbledon.

But despite 15 aces from his opponent, Nadal did enough to stay alive and book a third round date with Frenchman Richard Gasquet at his home Masters Series event.

“It was a very tough match and an important one to win,” said Nadal. “Gulbis is young with a great future ahead of him.

“He fought back well in the second set, winning the important games. I pulled out my best game when I had to.

“It was tough to attack him, and this was my first match in a few weeks so I have things to improve.”

Gasquet, the 15th seed, was also made to work hard before emerging a 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 winner against newly-wed American Mardy Fish.

Day three of the penultimate Masters Series event of the year saw two of its seeds crash out.

As well as Marin Cilic taking care of Spains 13th seed Fernando Verdasco in straight sets, 11th seed James Blake also tumbled out, losing 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 to Gilles Simon from France.

Fourth seed Andy Murray enjoyed a very comfortable day at the office on Tuesday, though, when his Italian opponent, Simone Bolelli, quit their second round match with a shoulder injury with the Scot leading 6-0, 2-1.

In first round action Spains Marcel Granollers, American Robby Ginepri and Robin Soderling from Sweden all beat French opposition.

Qualifier Granollers beat Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4, 6-4, Ginepri was too good for Michael Llodra 6-4, 6-4 and Soderling sent Florent Serra packing 6-3, 6-4.

There was better news for French tennis fans, though, when Gael Monfils beat Italian wild card Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-4.

Other first round winners included Finlands Jarkko Nieminen, Germanys Philip Kohlschreiber and Victor Hanescu from Romania.

The pick of Wednesdays matches will see Roger Federer make his first tour appearance since winning his 13th grand slam title in New York last month.

The world No.2 and second seed takes on Czech battler Radek Stepanek in the evening session.

Also on Wednesday American Andy Roddick faces Spaniard Tommy Robredo, Argentine David Nalbandian plays in-form Czech Tomas Berdych and Serb third seed Novak Djokovic goes up against Hanescu.

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