Kiefer tops Gabashvili in Countrywide Classic opener

Updated: July 16, 2007, 8:03 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Nicolas Kiefer, playing on a hard court for the first time in 16 months, moved into the second round of the ATP Countrywide Classic with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Teimuraz Gabashvili at the UCLA Tennis Center on Monday.

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The 30-year-old Kiefer, now ranked 409th after getting as high as No. 4, injured his left wrist at last year's French Open. It took two operations to repair the injury and it kept him off the tour from June 2, 2006, until this June 11.

He went 2-3 on grass courts before playing his first hardcourt match since mid-March 2006 at Miami.

"It was the first match on hard court for a long time," said Kiefer, who lost to countryman Tommy Haas in the 2004 final and was given a wild card entry into this year's 32-player field. "My fitness is very good. I just need a few matches and a few wins, play many balls, and then everything will be good."

Kiefer, who could face No. 4 seed David Nalbandian in the second round, had seven aces and won 24 of his 27 first-serve points (89 percent) in the 65-minute win over Gabashvili.

In other day matches, No. 5 seed Dmitry Tursunov defeated Danai Udomchoke 6-1, 6-4, and No. 7 Hyung-Taik Lee beat Kevin Kim 6-3, 6-2. No. 8 seed Amer Delic was upset by Michael Berrer 6-4, 6-4.

Third seeded Marat Safin was scheduled to play Chris Guccione on Monday night.

Tursunov, who lost to Haas in last year's final, beat Udomchoke for the fourth time in four matches. Tursunov had eight aces and won 20 of 22 first-serve points (90 percent).


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press