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Rediff.com  » Sports » Teenager Nadal shows no respect for Costa

Teenager Nadal shows no respect for Costa

April 17, 2003 13:01 IST

Teenager Rafael Nadal showed no respect for his elder compatriot Albert Costa, ousting the French Open champion from the Monte Carlo Masters in straight sets on Wednesday.

Nadal, 16, who received a wild card to qualify for the 2.2-million euro claycourt tournament, won 7-5, 6-3 on a gloomy day for past Roland Garros winners.

Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten was unexpectedly beaten by Swede Magnus Norman 1-6, 7-5, 6-2.

Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov, the 1996 French Open champion, also lost, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 to Finn Jarkko Nieminen.

Carlos Moya, Monte Carlo champion in 1998, was the only former Roland Garros winner to reach the third round, beating South African Wayne Ferreira 6-4, 6-4.

Moya, who like Nadal comes from Mallorca, had said his young compatriot was the hardest hitter he had ever seen, and the latest Spanish prodigy confirmed the claim.

The far more experienced Costa, playing in the principality for the 10th time, was the most consistent player at first, breaking his opponent early in the match.

But Nadal, the nephew of former Spanish international soccer player Miguel Angel Nadal, reacted quickly and took the Catalan's serve to level at 4-4.

Moving up a gear, the youngest player left in the tournament gradually outpaced Costa, who had to be content with saving four set points before losing a hardfought 80-minute first set 7-5.

Nadal's youthful boldness worked miracles again in the second set and Costa, a losing finalist on the same court in 1996, quickly found himself 4-1 down.

Costa, who was hoping to confirm his Roland Garros title with another prestigious claycourt crown, finally bowed 6-3 in a game that ended late in the evening.

"I have tremendous respect for Albert, but I need to play this type of players if I want to progress," Nadal said.

Earlier in the day, Norman gained late revenge for his 2000 French Open final loss to Kuerten by beating the Brazilian, who won the principality tournament in 2001 and 1999.

Both players are trying to regain form after surgery.

Kuerten missed most of last season nursing a hip injury while Norman has been hampered over the past two years by various health problems.

Although Guga was poised to maintain his three-year unbeaten run in Monte Carlo after leading 6-1, 5-2, Norman suddenly got into the groove, taking the next five games to win the second set 7-5.

Norman maintained the upper hand in the final set and Guga had to be content with saving three match points before bowing out on a netcord after almost two hours of play.

"It was really like a nightmare, you know from 5-2 to 3-0 in the third set, losing seven straight games was very tough," said Kuerten.

The win provided Norman with a confidence boost as he had never made it past the second round in Monte Carlo.

"This is huge for me. It's going to help me a lot. If I can keep this going, I think I can be very dangerous this year again," said Norman, who has won 12 career titles, including seven on clay.

Five other seeds also made an early exit.

Fifth-seeded Czech Jiri Novak lost to Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela 6-4, 6-2. Sixth-seeded Argentine David Nalbandian, a surprise Wimbledon finalist last year, was dismissed by Italian Filippo Volandri 6-2, 7-6.

Julien Boutter, winner in Casablanca last week, was left the only Frenchman in the tournament after his 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win over seventh seed Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand.

Eighth seed Rainer Schuettler was beaten 6-2, 6-4 by Spanish qualifier Alberto Martin while American James Blake, seeded 15th, bowed to Argentine Guillermo Coria 6-0, 6-7, 6-3.