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Nadal pulls out of Sydney International in first set

1/9/2007 - Tennis

SYDNEY, Australia -- Rafael Nadal retired from his
first-round match at the Sydney International on Tuesday with a
right groin injury, less than a week away from the Australian Open.

Australian Chris Guccione was leading 6-5 and the players were
on serve in the opening set when the top-seeded Nadal decided,
after his second medical timeout of the match, to withdraw.

"I will have some treatment on it Wednesday, and will hope to
be 100 percent fit for next week," Nadal said. "The Australian
Open is a priority."

Nadal was among four retirements at the tournament Tuesday.
Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand (wrist) also pulled out on the
men's side, while in the women's draw former U.S. Open champion and
second-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova (respiratory virus) and No. 4
seed Nadia Petrova of Russia (abdominal strain) both quit their
matches early.

Nadal, ranked second behind No. 1 Roger Federer, missed last
year's Australian Open with a foot injury that kept him off the
circuit for four months. Nadal, the French Open champion, lost in
the semifinals in straight sets to Belgium's Xavier Malisse in last
week's Chennai Open in India.


On Tuesday against Guccione, a hard-serving left-hander, Nadal
saved two break points in his first service game and then received
his first medical treatment in the seventh game.

Earlier, defending champion James Blake beat fellow American
Kevin Kim 6-3, 6-4. Blake needed just 46 minutes in the first-round
match and had six aces to overpower Kim in the Australian Open
warmup tournament at the former 2000 Olympic complex in western
Sydney.

Qualifier Ivo Minar of the Czech Republic advanced to the second
round when Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand had to retire in the
second set with a wrist injury. Minar was ahead 6-2, 3-0.

Top-seeded Amelie Mauresmo, who received a first-round bye, beat
French compatriot Tatiana Golovin 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-1 to move into
the women's quarterfinals. Mauresmo, playing for the first time
Down Under since her Australian Open win last year, fought off
three set points in the first set before Golovin won in the
tiebreaker.

Mauresmo and Golovin each made 43 unforced errors and Golovin
had 10 double faults.

Kuznetsova retired from her match against Katarina Srebotnik of
Slovenia after Srebotnik won the first set 6-2. Ana Ivanovic of
Serbia was ahead 6-2, 4-2 when Petrova decided to retire with
stomach muscle problems.

Jelena Jankovic, who upset fifth-seeded Martina Hingis in the
first round, beat Australian Samantha Stosur 6-2, 7-6 (2).
Third-seeded Kim Clijsters beat Nicole Pratt of Australia 6-1, 6-2.