Reported on: August 19, 2010 21:03 PM
Reported in: Sports
MASON, AUG 19 (AP/UNB) - Top-ranked Rafael Nadal defeated American Taylor Dent 6-2, 7-5 on Wednesday in his opening match at the Cincinnati Masters, taking control by dominating the first four games to set up his 35th victory in his last 37 matches.
No. 2 Roger Federer, No. 3 Novak Djokovic, No. 4 Andy Murray and No. 13 Andy Roddick - the top-ranked American - also advanced.
Nadal had his serve broken only once in the match, in the second set. The Spanish player broke right back to level the second set, and again to pull ahead 6-5.
"In the beginning, he had a lot of mistakes," Nadal said. "In the second, that's what happens when you play against a big server. I was waiting to have my chances."
The top players got first-round byes, so their opening matches presented the first chance to get accustomed to the extremely fast court. Players say the balls are skipping much faster than they did at the hard-court tournament in Toronto last week, where Murray beat Roger Federer for the title.
"For us, it's difficult to adapt, especially if you only have one or two days," Nadal said. "This first match is always dangerous." One other notable change was the weather.
Temperatures in Cincinnati can reach 120 Fahrenheit (49 Celsius) on court, which is especially a problem for Djokovic. He got a break from the heat during his 6-3, 7-5 win over fellow Serb Viktor
Troicki in the day's opening match. The midday temperature was 79F (26C).
Djokovic feels the heat more than other players, and his allergies can kick in when it's extremely hot. "I do react a little bit different from other players," he said. "I do have some respiratory problems, depending on the conditions I play in. But you know, you've got to try to overcome
that. I'm not the only player who has issues out there."
Roddick was dealing with a different issue. He dropped out of Toronto last week and had blood tests to find out why he was feeling sluggish the last two months. Turns out he's getting over a mild
case of mononucleosis.
On Monday, Roddick had to go three sets, including a tiebreaker, to pull out his first-round win. Facing Thiemo de Bakker two days later, he never faced a break point during a 7-6 (4), 6-4 victory.
Roddick won the last four points in the tiebreaker, came out re-energized and got the match's only service break to take control.
Federer advanced when his opponent, qualifier Denis Istomin, hurt his right foot and ankle during a rally and had to quit the match after only 28 minutes. Istomin, the top player from Uzbekistan,
trailed 5-2 when he pulled up and sat down in the corner of the court, removing his shoe.
Istomin got the foot and ankle taped, but couldn't put much weight on it and decided to retire.
Federer welcomed the easy night coming off his finals match in Toronto.
"If there is a right timing for this, it's now, I guess," Federer said. "It gives me an extra day to get into it. From that standpoint, it's good."
Murray had the toughest time of the top seeds, forced to regroup after a second-set meltdown for a 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-2 win over France's Jeremy Chardy. Murray led 5-4 in the second set before
Chardy broke his serve to avoid a quick elimination, then became more aggressive and ran off five straight points to win the tiebreaker.
"He started playing a lot better," Murray said. "At the end of the second set, he started going for everything. When he started making some shots, I was a little uncomfortable."
Down 2-1 in the third set, Chardy took a medical timeout and had his right foot treated. He had his serve broken in the next game and never recovered. Chardy had 53 unforced errors. Murray settled in during the final set, getting accustomed to the court speed.
"They're very quick conditions out there - much different from Toronto," Murray said. "You don't have much time to get used to the conditions here."
Murray is hoping to use the tournament as a springboard to a first U.S. Open title - he lost the title match to Federer two years ago.
Mardy Fish pulled off the biggest upset at the $2.4 million Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, beating eighth-seeded Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (1), 7-6 (4).