Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray advance
LONDON -- Just three days after winning the French Open for the sixth time, Rafael Nadal began his preparations for Wimbledon with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden in his opening match at Queen's Club on Wednesday.
The top-seeded Spaniard was never at his best but broke in the opening game of each set to beat his 168th-ranked opponent comfortably and move into the third round.
While Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer both pulled out of their scheduled Wimbledon warm-up events this week, Nadal opted to play despite the short turnaround after the French Open.
It was midnight when Nadal returned to his hotel after beating Federer on Sunday for his sixth title at Roland Garros. After a few hours' sleep, he was up early on Monday for a photocall at Disneyland Paris before heading to London later the same day and straight to the practice courts at Queen's Club.
There wasn't even time for a glass of champagne to celebrate matching Bjorn Borg's record for French Open titles.
"To celebrate the victory, I'm going to have time later," Nadal said. "I have to be focused on the grass-court season."
Nadal's movement was often awkward on the grass Wednesday, and he let out a yelp of frustration at 3-2 in the second set when a routine forehand drifted into the tramlines.
Ebden, playing only his 11th match at this level, went on to earn his one and only chance to break serve in the match, but Nadal found a big first serve when it counted to weather the threat.
"It's impossible to be playing well the first day," said Nadal, the 2008 Wimbledon champion. "The energy is not in the perfect condition right now but I'm here to try my best as usual.
"I'm here because I love this tournament ... but at the same time, it works for me to try to start to have the feelings on grass. Sure, my conditions are not perfect because I feel everything (his muscles) a little more tighter than usual," he said.
Nadal, who will face Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic in the third round, was kept waiting in the locker room on Wednesday by several rain delays -- and a three-set match between second-seeded Andy Murray and Xavier Malisse.
Murray, who reached the French Open semifinals last week despite injuring his ankle earlier in the tournament, beat Malisse 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 to set up a third-round meeting with Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia.
Murray, who won at Queen's in 2009, said his ankle was still giving him some pain as he prepares for his Wimbledon campaign -- and another attempt to win his first Grand Slam title.
"I want to play as many matches as possible, but I also want to go into Wimbledon pain-free," Murray said. "Obviously playing on it and doing what I did at the French Open is not exactly the best course of action to get the ankle better.
"The good thing is from playing the match, I'm not necessarily doing it more damage, but also the pain is not going away," he said.
Murray was leading 3-1 against Malisse when play was interrupted by a heavy downpour.
The second-seeded Brit wrapped up the first set when the players returned, but Malisse cut out the errors and the 2002 Wimbledon semifinalist snatched the second set when he broke for the first time at 6-5 after Murray went long with a forehand.
Murray broke early in the decider and again in the last game to give the home crowd a welcome tonic amid the gloomy weather.
"It was tricky," Murray said. "The court's playing very, very slow for a grass court so there were quite a lot of rallies. I had a little chance at the end of the second set but didn't take it and Malisse got back into it and started playing better, but I managed to turn it around in the end. It's good to get through."
In other matches, the 14th-seeded Tipsarevic defeated American Michael Russell 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5), while eighth-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia also advanced, beating French qualifier Arnaud Clement 6-4, 6-4.
David Nalbandian defeated Serbian qualifier Ilija Bozoljac 6-4, 6-4, and 15th-seeded Kevin Anderson swept past Donald Young of the United States 6-2, 6-4.
In a late match, Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina beat Igor Kunitsyn 6-4, 6-4 to reach the third round, where he will face Gilles Simon of France.