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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports


Murray and Ferrer make early exits, Nadal wins

Posted: 12 Mar 2011 08:32 PM PST

Rafael Nadal of Spain serves against Rik De Voest of Russia during their match at the Indian Wells ATP tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California. — Reuters pic

INDIAN WELLS, California, March 13 — Fifth seed Andy Murray, sixth-seeded David Ferrer and defending champion Ivan Ljubicic all fell by the wayside on a day of startling upsets at the Indian Wells ATP tournament today.

British world number five Murray was eliminated 7-6 6-3 by American qualifier Donald Young, Spaniard Ferrer crashed out 7-6 6-3 at the hands of Croat Ivo Karlovic and Ljubicic was beaten 5-7 6-4 6-2 by Argentine Juan Martin del Potro.

Spanish world number one and top seed Rafa Nadal, however, had little trouble with his opening match as he demolished South African qualifier Rik de Voest 6-0 6-2 after just an hour on the showpiece center court.

"It was a good victory for me," left-hander Nadal, champion at Indian Wells in 2007 and 2009, told reporters. "Probably my opponent played a little bit more nervous than usual.

"For that reason, it wasn't one of these matches that I had to play my best tennis. I did what I had to do to win, no?"

The early exit of Murray was the most surprising of the day's upsets, despite the fact that the 23-year-old Scot had not competed in more than a month.

Murray has always enjoyed playing at Indian Wells, where he was a runner-up in 2009, but he struggled for fluency against his 143rd-ranked opponent who won the biggest match of his career with an aggressive brand of tennis.

"Most of it was not great today," a subdued Murray said after being beaten in just over an hour-and-a-half. "I didn't serve particularly well, I didn't move very well.

"He hit a lot of winners and gained in confidence, I guess, from hitting more winners."

The 32-year-old Karlovic, whose 2010 season was cut short by six months due to Achilles surgery, powered down nine aces before sealing victory against Ferrer in 95 minutes.

The six-foot 2.08 metre Croat won the first set tiebreaker 7-3 and then broke his opponent in the fourth game of the second before ending the match with an ace.

"I was playing well, I was returning well and I played good on my second serve, which this year has not been the case," the 239th-ranked Karlovic told Reuters. "Today was really good."

The Croat, who broke the fastest serve world record with a 156 mph blast during his country's Davis Cup tie against Germany in Zagreb last week, will next meet Frenchman Gilles Simon, who beat German Rainer Schuettler 6-3 7-6.

Croat Ljubicic, who upset American Andy Roddick 7-6 7-6 in last year's final, won a tight opening set against del Potro before being broken once in the second and twice in the third.

"It was not an easy draw, of course," Ljubicic said of his opponent, a former world number four who played just three tournaments last year because of an injury to his right wrist.

"He's a great player. We had some great points and I came up short in the end. Del Potro played a solid game, as normally he does, and it was too much for me today."

Del Potro, who won his eighth ATP title at last month's Delray Beach International Championships, will next meet Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov, a 6-4 6-4 winner against Romania's Victor Hanescu.

In other matches, India's Somdev Devvarman upset 19th-seeded Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 7-5 6-0 while ninth-seeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco eased past Lithuania's Richard Berankis 7-5 2-0, after his opponent retired hurt.

Swedish fourth seed Robin Soderling was scheduled to play his first match of the week at the ATP Masters 1000 event later on Saturday against Germany's Michael Berrer. — Reuters

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Wozniacki eases through at Indian Wells, Hantuchova out

Posted: 12 Mar 2011 07:56 PM PST

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark returns a shot against Sloane Stephens of the U.S. during their match at the Indian Wells WTA tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California. — Reuters pic

INDIAN WELLS, California, March 13 — Top seed Caroline Wozniacki barely raised a sweat as she pummelled American wildcard Sloane Stephens 6-3 6-2 in the second round of the Indian Wells WTA tournament today.

The Danish world number one, who lost to Serb Jelena Jankovic in last year's final at Indian Wells, broke Stephens twice in the first set and three times in the second to wrap up victory in just over an hour.

Wozniacki ended the match with a crisp forehand volley into an open court and will next meet 28th-seeded Spaniard Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, who beat Romania's Simona Halep 7-5 6-0 today.

"I feel good," the 20-year-old Dane told reporters. "It's always nice to have a win, and the first match is difficult. But I pulled through, so it's nice."

Asked if she had any concerns over her form, the pony-tailed Wozniacki replied: "I felt like the timing was not quite there yet but Sloane, she took her chances. She played well.

"I would just like to go match by match and try to develop my game," added the bubbly Dane, who won her 13th WTA title at last month's Dubai championships.

Earlier, twice former champion Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia tumbled out of the tournament after being beaten 7-6 6-4 by Russian former world number one Dinara Safina.

The hard-hitting Russian won an error-prone opening set, featuring six breaks of serve in the first eight games, and wrapped up the match by breaking her 26th-seeded opponent in the 10th game of the second.

"It definitely feels good," Safina told reporters after improving her career record against Hantuchova to 7-4. "Every win is important. I was trying very hard and fighting.

"She had two set points in the first set. I pulled them out, and then I started to play a little bit better. I'm really happy with the win today."

Safina, who has slipped to 108th in the rankings after being troubled by a back injury last year, will next face fourth-seeded Australian Samantha Stosur who swept past Spaniard Laura Pous-Tio 6-2 6-2,

"The next round is a really tough one," the Russian said. "Samantha; she's playing some great tennis."

In other second-round matches, eighth seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus beat Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-4 6-3 while Czech Lucie Hradecka upset 27th-seeded Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru 4-6 6-4 6-4.

Italy's 13th seed Flavia Pennetta battled past Britain's Elena Baltacha 6-4 3-6 6-4 and 22nd seed Alisa Kleybanova of Russia was a 6-3 7-5 winner against Hungary's Agnes Szavay. — Reuters

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