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Nadal, Murray Rebound In Cincy Openers

Cincinnati, U.S.A.

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal converted on all three of his break points.

Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray bounced back from last week’s shock losses, respectively defeating Frenchman Julien Benneteau and Argentine David Nalbandian in straight sets Wednesday afternoon at the Western & Southern Open.

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Nadal had been unable to hold a set and break lead in his match against Ivan Dodig in his Montreal opener, and exactly one week on, failed to serve out his second-round match at the first time of asking. He committed three unforced errors up 5-4 in the second set to allow Benneteau to get back on serve. The Spaniard quickly regrouped this time, breaking back at love in the next game, and proceeded to clinch the 6-4, 7-5 victory with an ace on match point.

"The moments that I spend one week ago in Montreal when I lost the match, serving for the match, always the confidence goes down a little bit after one match like that," Nadal admitted. "So that probably affected me a little bit today with 5-4 and the serve. For the rest I am happy. I have to keep going, and that's what I will try."

The pair had also met last year in Cincinnati, with Nadal saving a match point in the second set tie-break before defeating the Frenchman.

Though Nadal was pleased with aspects of his game, he stressed the need of improving his consistency from point to point. "My serve worked well today; my forehand for almost all the time I hit very good shots," said Nadal, who was playing just his second match since Wimbledon. "I did a lot of things well, but not in every point. I played three points well; after I played two points bad. So I am in the right way, but I need to keep having matches. For sure that's important for me now."

This is Nadal’s least successful of the nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments, the only one in which he has yet to reach the final. He has twice advanced to the semi-finals, falling to Novak Djokovic at that stage in 2008-09.

He next plays countryman Fernando Verdasco, who defeated Frenchman Michael Llodra 6-4, 6-4. Nadal has defeated Verdasco in their previous 11 meetings, including their memorable battle in the 2009 Australian Open semi-finals when he prevailed after five hours and 14 minutes.

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In Murray’s second-round opener, he fell behind a break to start his match against former World No. 3 Nalbandian. Though the British No. 1 drew level at 3-all on his ninth break point opportunity, he lost serve again in the next game before breaking Nalbandian two more times to secure the set lead. Murray won all but four points on return in the second set to close out a 6-4, 6-1 win.

The World No. 4 had suffered a lopsided defeat to Kevin Anderson last week as the two-time defending champion at the Rogers Cup, managing to win just four games, and said after his match Wednesday: "I thought I played better than I did last week, but the goal when you haven't been playing for a long time is just to play just a little bit better every day and try and make small improvements. I was definitely better today than last week. I need to try and keep that up for the next match and hopefully play just five per cent, 10 per cent better tomorrow than I did today. I'll be happy with that."

Murray will play American Alex Bogomolov Jr. for a place in the quarter-finals after the qualifier ousted World No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 6-4. The 28-year-old Bogomolov, a recent semi-finalist in Los Angeles, is currently ranked a career-high No. 50. He notched his first Top 10 victory earlier this year in Miami when he defeated Murray in straight sets.

"I learned a lot about myself during that match just because it was a lot of pressure," said Bogomolov. "It was my hometown. It was on the stadium where I grew up in Miami. Now it's a little bit different. It's a third round of a Masters [1000] instead of a second round. So as far as game plan, we're going to have the same game plan going in. Just hopefully it's going to be a good match, and we'll go from there."

Murray won his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title at this tournament in 2008 (d. Djokovic). 

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