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Nadal, Djokovic advance; Canas' win sets up match with Federer

10/17/2007 - Tennis

MADRID, Spain -- Rafael Nadal showed no signs of the bum
knees that hampered him earlier this year, beating Marcos Baghdatis
6-4, 6-4 Wednesday in his opening match at the Madrid Masters.

The second-ranked Spaniard, who hasn't played since the U.S.
Open due to injuries to his knees, broke Baghdatis' serve on
consecutive occasions in the first set. He then served out the win
after breaking Baghdatis for the final time in the ninth game of
the second set.

"You never know how it's going to be until you step out on the
court and I had a good feeling when I did," Nadal said. "I tried
to play with a little more aggressiveness and intention and it
worked. I hit the ball well, it sounded good coming off the
racket."

Novak Djokovic saved all 10 break points before rallying to beat
Fernando Verdasco of Spain 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-3 in his opener.

The third-seeded Serb converted three breaks in the final two
sets to win after the 29th-ranked Verdasco finally took the first
set tiebreaker on his fourth try.

"Every time we've played, it's been a difficult match," said
Djokovic, who is 2-2 against Verdasco.

Djokovic, who won his fifth title of the season in Vienna on
Sunday, will play another Spaniard in Juan Carlos Ferrero, who
upset 14th-seeded Carlos Moya 7-6 (2), 6-4.

"He has the fast game, he likes to be in control, to be
aggressive as I like as well. Obviously, he has a lot of
supporters," Djokovic said.

Nadal, the 2005 champion, will face Andy Murray in the third
round. The 17th-ranked Brit stretched Nadal to five sets in their
only other meeting during the Australian Open this past January.

"He's playing at a high level right now," Nadal said. "I'm
going to have a very tough match tomorrow."

In all, eight seeded players lost on Wednesday, a day after two
others also fell out.

Sixth-seeded James Blake made it four trips to Madrid without a
win after losing 6-3, 6-4 to Mario Ancic. Blake made 25 unforced
errors and hit five double faults as Ancic broke the American
twice.

Wild card Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina lost the
opening-set tiebreaker but rallied to beat eighth-seeded
Tommy Robredo 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-3.

Twenty-two aces weren't enough for Ivan Ljubicic, who committed
51 unforced errors and hit only 14 winners in a 6-3, 6-7 (2), 7-5
loss to Austrian qualifier Stefan Koubek.

Earlier, Guillermo Canas defeated Agustin Calleri 6-3, 3-6, 7-5
to set up a match with Roger Federer in the third round.

Canas -- who in March became only the fifth player to record
back-to-back wins over the top-ranked Federer -- had three breaks in
the final set, including in the final game.

Fifth-seeded Fernando Gonzalez saved seven set points in the
first to win a tough match against Spain's Nicolas Almagro 7-6
(11), 7-5, and Ivo Karlovic hit 20 aces in defeating Spain's
Oscar Hernandez 7-5, 6-2.

Karlovic has hit 1,172 aces this season, second only to Goran
Ivanisevic's record of 1,477 aces in 1996. Hernandez replaced
Nikolay Davydenko after the fourth-seeded Russian pulled out
Tuesday with an elbow injury.

Also, wild card Feliciano Lopez defeated David Ferrer 7-6 (3),
7-5 in an all-Spanish matchup, David Nalbandian rallied to beat
ninth-seeded Tomas Berdych 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2) and Paul-Henri Mathieu
fought off fellow Frenchman and 10th-seeded Richard Gasquet 7-6
(8), 7-5. Germany's Nicolas Kiefer beat 16th-seeded Mikhail Youzhny
of Russia 6-1, 6-3.