Nadal pulls out of Sydney International in first set

Updated: January 9, 2007, 9:40 AM ET
Associated Press

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.

Rafael Nadal

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.

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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.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press