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Nadal eases through as Djokovic falls

sports Updated: Mar 27, 2010 13:23 IST

AFP
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Rafael Nadal made an efficient start on a rain-soaked day at the WTA and ATP Miami Masters as the fourth seed subdued American Taylor Dent 6-4, 6-3 in his opening match.

The routine win on Friday in just over an hour was straightforward for Nadal, a two-time Miami finalist looking to stop the rot and win his first title since Rome last May.

"It was a good start for me," said Nadal. "Playing Dent is always a difficult match because you don't have rhythm.

"I had small chances on the return - only a few. I converted, and I had three breaks against his unbelievable serve."

The Spaniard moved through despite a painful wisdom tooth which must be removed after his tournament ends.

"I'm happy for the victory. It was a comfortable win against a difficult opponent."

But there was high drama on court for most of the afternoon as Belgium's pocket rocket Olivier Rochus pounded out a 6-2, 6-7 (7/9), 6-4 opening upset over Novak Djokovic to knock the second-seeded Serb out.

The victory marked the second win over a top 10 player in Miami for Rochus, who stands just 1.67 metres and ranks 59th in the world.

"He made me run a lot, the points were long, I'm exhausted," said Djokovic. "He was playing really well today, He deserved the win.

"He was motivated to win against a top player and had nothing to lose. He coped well."

Nadal improved to 13-3 on the season and 18-6 in Miami, where he lost finals in 2005 (to Roger Federer) and 2005 (to Nikolay Davydenko).

Djokovic and Rochus, were delayed for two and a half hours at their start as a rainstorm swept over Key Biscayne. They were also interrupted for 52 minutes after the ninth game of the second set by more bad weather.

Rochus fought like a tiger throughout the contest, sweeping the first set and battling hard in the second under a barrage of break points.