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Nadal pushed by qualifier in opener, while Murray knocked out

1/14/2008 - Tennis

MELBOURNE, Australia -- No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal survived an early test of his Australian Open credentials, while ninth-seeded Andy Murray became the first high-profile casualty at the season-opening Grand Slam.

Nadal battled to a 7-6 (3), 7-5, 6-1 win over Viktor Troicki, a Serbian
qualifier in his first Grand Slam appearance.

Showing no signs of nerves, the 126th-ranked Troicki forced
a set point at 6-5 in the first set and led 4-2 in the second
before Nadal finally wore him down to clinch victory in 2
hours, 35 minutes.

"He played very, very aggressively," said Nadal, the only player to beat Roger Federer at
the last 10 Grand Slams (at the last two French Opens).
"Today I was struggling at some times in the match. I
couldn't get the rhythm in the beginning but in the third set I think I played a bit better."

In cool evening conditions, Nadal missed the chance to
serve out for the first set at 5-4 and then had to save a set
point in the 12th game, before winning the tiebreak 7-3.

Troicki then broke in the third game of the second set on
his way to a 4-2 lead but Nadal levelled at 4-4 and after
pinching the set, he eased through the third to win a match
that finished in the early hours of Tuesday local time.

"I was struggling sometimes,'' Nadal said. "He played
aggressive, served very well."

Murray lost 7-5, 6-4, 0-6, 7-6 (5) to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, who gave Andy Roddick a tough time in the first round last year. Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina, seeded 18th, lost in four sets to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain.

Murray, considered a dark horse to win in Melbourne, weathered withering blows in the first set, his legs
wobbled in the second and, after a gutsy rally, was sent packing in the fourth set.

"Didn't start off great," he said. "[Tsonga] dictated a lot of points early in the match. I
made a few mistakes there I shouldn't have made."

Sixth-ranked Roddick had less trouble this time, advancing 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 over Czech qualifier Lukas Dlouhy, who self-destructed with 12 double-faults in the first two sets.

No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko, still subject to an ATP investigation into illegal gambling, beat Michael Llodra 7-5, 7-5, 6-3.

Three seeded men needed five sets to advance: No. 11 Tommy Robredo rallied from two sets down to oust Mischa Zverev, No. 24 Jarkko Nieminen beat Canada's Frank Dancevic, and No. 28 Gilles Simon downed American Bobby Reynolds.

In a match between two former finalists, 2003 runner-up Rainer Schuettler of Germany beat 2001 runner-up Arnaud Clement of France; while Mardy Fish, who combined with Serena Williams in the United States' Hopman Cup-winning team earlier this month, beat Serbia's Boris Pashanski.

Also advancing were eighth-seeded Richard Gasquet of France and No. 14 Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, who won in Sydney last week.

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.