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Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Nadal, Djokovic advance; Canas' win sets up match with Federer

Associated Press

MADRID, Spain -- Rafael Nadal showed no signs of the bum knees that hampered him earlier this year, beating Marcos Baghdatis 6-4, 6-4 Wednesday in his opening match at the Madrid Masters.

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The second-ranked Spaniard, who hasn't played since the U.S. Open due to injuries to his knees, broke Baghdatis' serve on consecutive occasions in the first set. He then served out the win after breaking Baghdatis for the final time in the ninth game of the second set.

"You never know how it's going to be until you step out on the court and I had a good feeling when I did," Nadal said. "I tried to play with a little more aggressiveness and intention and it worked. I hit the ball well, it sounded good coming off the racket."

Novak Djokovic saved all 10 break points before rallying to beat Fernando Verdasco of Spain 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-3 in his opener.

The third-seeded Serb converted three breaks in the final two sets to win after the 29th-ranked Verdasco finally took the first set tiebreaker on his fourth try.

"Every time we've played, it's been a difficult match," said Djokovic, who is 2-2 against Verdasco.

Djokovic, who won his fifth title of the season in Vienna on Sunday, will play another Spaniard in Juan Carlos Ferrero, who upset 14th-seeded Carlos Moya 7-6 (2), 6-4.

"He has the fast game, he likes to be in control, to be aggressive as I like as well. Obviously, he has a lot of supporters," Djokovic said.

Nadal, the 2005 champion, will face Andy Murray in the third round. The 17th-ranked Brit stretched Nadal to five sets in their only other meeting during the Australian Open this past January.

"He's playing at a high level right now," Nadal said. "I'm going to have a very tough match tomorrow."

In all, eight seeded players lost on Wednesday, a day after two others also fell out.

Sixth-seeded James Blake made it four trips to Madrid without a win after losing 6-3, 6-4 to Mario Ancic. Blake made 25 unforced errors and hit five double faults as Ancic broke the American twice.

Wild card Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina lost the opening-set tiebreaker but rallied to beat eighth-seeded Tommy Robredo 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-3.

Twenty-two aces weren't enough for Ivan Ljubicic, who committed 51 unforced errors and hit only 14 winners in a 6-3, 6-7 (2), 7-5 loss to Austrian qualifier Stefan Koubek.

Earlier, Guillermo Canas defeated Agustin Calleri 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 to set up a match with Roger Federer in the third round.

Canas -- who in March became only the fifth player to record back-to-back wins over the top-ranked Federer -- had three breaks in the final set, including in the final game.

Fifth-seeded Fernando Gonzalez saved seven set points in the first to win a tough match against Spain's Nicolas Almagro 7-6 (11), 7-5, and Ivo Karlovic hit 20 aces in defeating Spain's Oscar Hernandez 7-5, 6-2.

Karlovic has hit 1,172 aces this season, second only to Goran Ivanisevic's record of 1,477 aces in 1996. Hernandez replaced Nikolay Davydenko after the fourth-seeded Russian pulled out Tuesday with an elbow injury.

Also, wild card Feliciano Lopez defeated David Ferrer 7-6 (3), 7-5 in an all-Spanish matchup, David Nalbandian rallied to beat ninth-seeded Tomas Berdych 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2) and Paul-Henri Mathieu fought off fellow Frenchman and 10th-seeded Richard Gasquet 7-6 (8), 7-5. Germany's Nicolas Kiefer beat 16th-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 6-1, 6-3.