Nadal Fights Off Match Point at ATP Marseille

Posted on February 15, 2006

Rafael Nadal's 2006 debut coming off a foot injury was a shaky one Tuesday at the ATP stop in Marseille, where the top-seeded and No. 2-ranked Spaniard was forced to save a match point in a 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 win over scrambling Belgian Olivier "The Roach" Rochus.

"I was playing a little too defensively," said Nadal, who led 4-2 in the third before facing a match point at 4-5, fighting it off with an ace. "It was my only ace of the match, and it came at the right moment. Sometimes it happens that way. It's not usually the way I play the big points, but it worked this time."

No. 3 seed Nikolay Davydenko also grabbed the can of roach spray to terminate Olivier's brother Christophe Rochus with a comprehensive 6-1, 6-2 win.

In unseeded action Greg Rusedski cruised past French qualifier Nicolas Thomann in straight sets, joined in the second round by three Russians in Mikhail Youzhny (d. (Q) De Chaunac), lucky loser Evgeny Korolev (d. (WC) Sidorenko from a set down), and Igor Andreev who continued American Taylor Dent's miserable start to the season, blanking the serve-and-volleyer in the third-set tiebreak.

In doubles highlights the top-seeded Knowles/Nestor handled the Spanish Davis Cup team of Lopez/Verdasco in straight sets, and the Croatian D-Cup team of Ancic/Ljubicic fell to No. 2-seeded Israelis Erlich/Ram in two tiebreaks.

Lining up for Wednesday are Mathieu vs. (Q) Haehnel in an all-French, (4) T.Johansson vs. Fabrice "The Magician" Santoro, Paradorn "The Thai Fighter" Srichaphan vs. (2) Ljubicic, (WC) Clement vs. (5) Gasquet in an all-French, (8) Grosjean vs. Gael "Force" Monfils in an all-French, (6) Mario "Baby Goran" Ancic vs. Marcos "Bombs Over" Baghdatis, Jurgen "Tuna" Melzer vs. Fernando "Hot Sauce" Verdasco, (Q) Faurel vs. Feliciano "F-Lo" Lopez, and in doubles highlights French wildcards Clement/De Chaunac vs. Dent/Rusedski.