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Nadal Beats Paire In Madrid Opener; Tsonga Marches On

Madrid, Spain

Nadal© Getty ImagesRafael Nadal is bidding to win the Madrid title for the third time.

Rafael Nadal opened his bid to win a fifth title in seven tournaments this year as he defeated Benoit Paire of France 6-3, 6-4 on Wednesday in the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open. 

Nadal has made a remarkable comeback from the left knee injury that sidelined him for seven months. Since returning in February, he has compiled a 27-2 match record and lifted trophies in Sao Paulo, Acapulco, Indian Wells and Barcelona. 

The Mallorcan is looking to triumph at this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournament for the third time, following victory in 2005 (when it was staged on indoor hard court) and 2010. He advanced to the third round in the Spanish capital with his second victory in three weeks over Paire, breaking serve twice and winning 74 per cent of his service points. He also beat the Frenchman two weeks ago in Barcelona.

"That's an important victory today," said Nadal. "Each match in this kind of tournament is very demanding from the first round. He was a very uncomfortable opponent. He makes you play quite badly. He doesn't give you any rhythm. He has one of the best backhands in the circuit, without any doubt."

Next up for Nadal will be Mikhail Youzhny, who upset 11th seed Nicolas Almagro 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-2. The Russian erased 15 of the 17 break points against his serve, including all six in the final set to battle past Almagro in two hours and 56 minutes. Youzhny is 4-9 against Nadal, with all four of his victories coming on hard.

Seventh seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga set a third-round clash with Fernando Verdasco after edging Dutch qualifier Robin Haase 7-6(5), 7-6(2) in one hour and 46 minutes. The Frenchman is coming off a semi-final showing at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (l. to Nadal) and takes a 2-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head lead into the meeting with Verdasco.

Lindstedt/Nestor Win Doubles Opener
A pair of seeded teams won their second-round opening matches Wednesday. Third seeds Robert Lindstedt and Daniel Nestor edged Marin Cilic and Lukas Dlouhy 7-6(3), 7-6(3), while fifth seeds Max Mirnyi and Horia Tecau prevailed against recent Casablanca champions Julian Knowle and Filip Polasek 3-6, 6-4, 11-9. 

Fourth seeds Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer, winners of the Sony Open Tennis title, lost to Jeremy Chardy and Lukasz Kubot 6-2, 7-6(4).

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