Nadal’s winning streak ends in Cincinnati
Mason, August 17:
Rafael Nadal’s 16-match winning streak ended when the 19-year-old Spaniard was beaten on Tuesday night in the first round of the Cincinnati Masters by a less-celebrated teenager. Tomas Berdych wore down the second-seeded Nadal in a 2-hour, 57-min match, pulling off an upset with a 6-7, 6-2, 7-6 victory. Nadal’s spinning ground strokes weren’t enough against a 19-year-old Czech who also likes to hit from the baseline.
Both teenagers showed the strain of a grueling match on a humid night. Berdych survived five break points in one game of the third set to keep it tied, and overcame three match points to send it to the tiebreaker. Nadal never led during the tiebreaker, double-faulting twice. Earlier, Lleyton Hewitt shook off the lasting effects of a severe stomach virus, gradually regaining his touch in his first match in the tournament. Russia’s Marat Safin had a much tougher time with his still aching knee.
The third-seeded Hewitt beat Igor Andreev 6-3, 6-4 on a muggy afternoon that tested his stamina. Safin also got back onto the court after a much longer absence. He opened his match against Jan Hernych with a double fault, and doubled faulted twice while losing the opening game. He eventually got rolling and pulled out a 7-6, 6-4 win. Two seeded players lost their opening matches after the long rain delay — No 10 Mariano Puerta of Argentina and No 13 Thomas Johansson of Sweden.
Serena Williams was so frustrated she wanted to “crack every racket.” Still, she rallied from a rocky start to defeat Stephanie Cohen-Aloro of France 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the second round of the Rogers Cup. The fifth-seeded American struggled with her mobility on the court, often failing to get to balls well within her reach. Earlier, Amelie Mauresmo acknowledged she was rusty, and Svetlana Kuznetsova appeared shaky. Second-seeded Mauresmo, the defending champion, opened with a 6-2, 6-3 second-round win over Dally Randriantefy of Madagascar. Kuzne-tsova, the No 3 seed from Russia, rallied from a horrible start to win 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 over Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain.
In first-round action, No 11 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia and Montenegro was upset by Li Na of China 6-4, 5-7, 6-2; No 12 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia and Montenegro beat Italy’s Tathiana Garbin 6-2, 7-6, and No 10 Nathalie Dechy of France downed Fabiola Zuluaga 6-2, 6-4. No 13 seed Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia retired from her match against Alina Jidkova of Russia due to heat illness.
No 8 Mary Pierce of France withdrew from the tournament due to a strained right quadriceps. On Sunday, top-seeded Russian Maria Sharapova backed out due to a strained chest muscle. Venus Williams, ranked ninth in the world, withdrew last week due to the flu.