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Nadal Weathers Nishikori, Defending Champ Roddick Ousted

Despite being tested by Kei Nishikori, Rafael Nadal managed to close out his second round match at the Sony Ericsson Open in straight sets. Nadal overcame the talented Japanese 6-4, 6-4 to get to the third round where he will face fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.

After Nishikori wasted a couple of break points which have given him a 3-1 lead, Nadal manufactured double break point. Nadal converted when Nishikori buried a backhand into the net. Nadal subsequently consolidated at love for 4-2.

Later on, Nishikori had double break points with Nadal serving at 4-3. Once more, this was to no avail. Nadal maintained the one break advantage to seal the first set.

In the second set, Nadal seized the break in the first game and guarded the advantage despite Nishikori’s formidable resistance. With triple match point, Nadal aced his rival to punctuate the set.

Nadal was particularly hampered by the serve in the final of BNP Paribas Open last week. Consequently, inquired as to the changes he made to fix this problem “I tried to remember what I did when I served well. I slowed down the speed a little bit. . . Because I served 117 to 124, 25 miles almost every time. That’s enough speed if you put the right percentage inside and. . .the balls close to the lines. I think that worked well.”

Furthermore, Nadal said “Nishikori is a good returner. His returns are fast, deep and difficult. . . I have to improve a little bit on the second serve. The speed was [at times] 85, 88, 89, 90, 92. . . But in general, I am very happy with the match of tonight”.

Never one to take his opponent for granted. Despite a 6-2 mark versus Lopez, Nadal’s assessment of the upcoming match when asked by was “[it’s] important for me to play my best tennis. . . He has a very good serve, volleys well and he’s an aggressive player. Very dangerous, but if I play very well, I have my chances”.

In addition, Nadal stated “I have to play aggressively with my forehand, try to move him and get to the net when I have the chance. The match will be similar [to the past ones in some ways]. Still, every match is [also] different and always difficult”.

Pablo Cuevas came into the tournament with a record under 500 at 6-7. With defending Andy Roddick across the net, Cuevas must have thought that his week at its end in the second round. To the contrary, Cuevas surprised Roddick 6-4, 7-6.

Cuevas caught a break in finding Roddick not at 100%. After Roddick erased a break point, he manufactured double break point the very next game. However, Cuevas found a way to turn him away.

Following, Cuevas on his fourth break point opportunity in the seventh game pocketed the break and made it stand the remainder of the set.

Roddick called for the trainer a few times in the second set. Despite having something wrong, Roddick soldiered on hoping to will his way to a triumph.

After Roddick failed to capitalize on a couple of break point opportunities, the second set went to a tiebreaker. With Roddick misfiring on forehands and moving sluggishly, Cuevas took command of the tiebreaker and collected his first victory over a top ten player.

Roddick was clearly bumped with the result. Moreover, he is frustrated to have this lingering health issue. Roddick cited “I had a little trouble breathing out there today.  I’ve had something for a little while, but I’m going to have it checked out when I get home.. . It’s dating back to Memphis off and on. That’s a little too long, I think”.

A few weeks ago, Roddick completed a course of antibiotics for a bronchial infection.

Irrespective of his own troubles, Roddick admitted that “[Cuevas] played well. He hit some good passing shots. He definitely had more game than I did today. . . He was hitting that kick serve pretty well on the ad side. I had a couple looks in the second set, and he hit a couple good ones”. inquired from Cuevas whether it was awkward to play Roddick after witnessing that he contending with a problem. Cuevas responded “ Yes, it can be difficult. But, I was just concentrating on what I could do and control. It was only towards the end of the match that I saw there was something wrong with him”.

With early departures at Indian Wells where he was a finalist in 2010 and the same in Miami, Roddick is at risk of falling out of the top ten.

In the third round, Cuevas collides with Gilles Simon. The Frenchman sailed through his match against Rainer Schuettler 6-4, 6-3.

Tenth seed Jurgen Melzer suffered an injury in his second round match. Details are still sketchy as to the nature of the ailment. Melzer went down to doubles partner Philipp Petzschner in straight sets.

In the next round, Petzschner will clash with Janko Tipsarevic. The latter toppled Marin Cilic 6-3, 7-6, recording his first victory over the Croat in six tries.

Argentine Carlos Berlocq also shocked 28th seed Ernests Gulbis. Waiting for Berlocq is seventh seed Tomas Berdych who got by Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo 6-1, 6-7, 6-0.

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