Nadal returns with tennis win over Schuettler

INDIAN WELLS: Rafael Nadal, playing his first match since retiring injured from the Australian Open, launched his Indian Wells title defence Saturday with a straight-set win over Rainer Schuettler.

Nadal, seeded third, downed the German qualifier 6-4, 6-4.

It was the 23-year-old Spaniard's first match since a right knee injury forced him to retire from his Australian Open quarter-final while trailing Andy Murray by two sets.

He needed one hour and 34 minutes to dispatch Schuettler, a former world number five who is now ranked 90th in the world.

In the third round, Nadal will face Croatian Mario Ancic, a 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 winner over France's Julien Benneteau.

Ancic, who was a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2004, missed most of last year after being diagnosed with mononucleosis that had first been diagnosed as a bad flu in 2008.

Serbian Novak Djokovic, seeded second behind Roger Federer in the first Masters 1000 tournament of 2010, was due to open his campaign in the night's finale against American Mardy Fish -- the man Djokovic beat in the final here in 2008.

Among other seeded men advancing to the third round Saturday after all 32 enjoyed first-round byes, fifth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko defeated Latvia's Ernests Gulbis 6-4, 6-4.

The world number six from Russia needed one hour and 34 minutes to reach the third round with the win over Gulbis, the young Latvian who notched his first career ATP title last month at Delray Beach.

In the third round, the 28-year-old Davydenko will take on Serbian Viktor Troicki, who advanced when Pablo Cuevas retired with a back injury after one game.

Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez ousted eighth-seeded Croatian Marin Cilic 7-6 (7/1), 6-0, but Spanish 10th seed Fernando Verdasco made it safely through.

Verdasco, who won his fourth career ATP title last month in San Jose, booked his third-round berth with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Paraguayan qualifier Ramon Delgado.

On the women's side, top-seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova fell at her first hurdle as Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro downed the world number three 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.

It was the second straight year that Kuznetsova lost in the second round at Indian Wells, a tournament where she has had two runner-up finishes but never won.

Suarez Navarro, ranked 42nd in the world, called her 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 triumph over the world number three "one of the most important matches of my life," but it was clear Kuznetsova was well off the form that saw her capture the French Open last year.

"It's frustrating, because I know I have the game," said Kuznetsova, who has struggled to get her 2010 season rolling. "I feel great. I do practice, play unbelievable, and then get to the match and I don't do much."

Third-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus made it safely through, beating Austrian Sybille Bammer 6-1, 7-5

Belgian Kim Clijsters booked a third-round berth with a brisk 6-2, 6-1 victory over Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

It was Clijsters' first WTA match since an embarrassing 6-0, 6-1 defeat to Nadia Petrova in the third round of the Australian Open.