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Nadal strides through Queen's opener

June 12, 2008 15:12 IST

Four-times French Open champion Rafael Nadal opened his grasscourt season on Wednesday with a ruthlessly efficient 6-2, 6-2 victory over experienced Swede Jonas Bjorkman at the Queen's Club ATP tournament.

The 36-year-old Bjorkman, 14 years older and ranked 100 places below the top seed, could not cope with Nadal's pinpoint power, despite his strong grasscourt credentials as a former Wimbledon semi-finalist and multi-Grand Slam doubles champion.

Nadal, who demolished world number one Roger Federer in the final at Roland Garros on Sunday, looked fresh and moved well despite the transition to grass which he described as difficult.

"The movements are so different and the feeling when you touch the ball," he said. "I need more days to know whether I am really playing well."

Nadal has translated his claycourt mastery in the last two years by reaching the final at Wimbledon, beaten each time by Federer.

The two years before Nadal, Federer's losing final opponent at the All England Club was big-serving Andy Roddick.

The American began his pursuit of a fifth Queen's title by preceding Nadal on Centre Court and thumped down 15 aces to beat compatriot Robby Ginepri 6-7, 6-1, 6-1.

The third seed, who like Nadal had a bye in the first round, had played no competitions since pulling out of the Italian Masters with a shoulder injury last month and in the first set he looked rusty.


Ginepri, who reached the fourth round of the French Open and had a good workout in his 6-4, 7-6 first-round match against compatriot Vince Spadea on Monday, looked comfortable going forward and clinched the tiebreak 8-6 with two neat volleys.

But after screaming in frustration when he floated an easy backhand into the net, Roddick finally got into his stride, picking his spot on serve and finding the lines with his returns.

"Robby was really aggressive in the first set," Roddick said. "I found my feet in the second and went on from there."

The 25-year-old from Omaha said he was pleased to have got through three sets without aggravating his injury especially as he had hardly served over the last month.

Lleyton Hewitt, also pursuing a fifth title, safely navigated his way to the third round with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Belgian Xavier Malisse.

The 2002 Wimbledon champion has been struggling with a hip injury but said he felt more comfortable with each match on grass.

Second-seeded Serbian Novak Djokovic played his usual baseline game to overcome Croatian Roko Karanusic 6-2, 7-6.

"It's the first match on grass so it's normal to have ups and downs," Djokovic said after being stretched to 9-7 in the tiebreak, having been 5-3 up in the second set.

He finished the match with panache, however, a fearsome forehand pass setting up match point before he triumphed with a delicate drop shot.

Fourth seed David Nalbandian beat Serbia's Viktor Troiki 6-4, 7-6 and fifth seed Richard Gasquet beat Simone Bolelli of Italy 6-3, 6-3.

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