Nadal upstages mentor Moya
Rafael Nadal didn’t let a jammed finger deter him from an opening-round hard-court victory, overcoming long-time mentor Carlos Moya 6-3, 6-7 (0-7) 6-3 on Tuesday at the $2,2-million Montreal Masters.
The 19-year-old from the Spanish island of Mallorca needed treatment in the fifth game of the final set on a finger on his left hitting hand.
But that problem was quickly solved as the top seed secured the win over the 28-year-old compatriot, who spotted him as a top tennis tip in the late 1990s.
Nadal came in strong in his first cement outing since taking Roger Federer to the limit four months ago in the final at Miami.
The reigning French Open champion has won his last 34 matches on clay with a yield of eight trophies in 2005.
He now stands 11-4 on hard courts, with a month on the surface filling his schedule through the United States Open.
Nadal said that his long friendship with Moya, the 1998 French Open winner, didn’t affect the match.
“We practise always together in Mallorca,” said the winner. “We have a very good relationship. He’s my best friend in the tour.”
Moya came into the battle of current and former Roland Garros winners standing level 1-1 with his teenaged compatriot.
The 28-year-old won their last meeting in the semis two years ago at Umag.
Nadal said he is keen to translate his game successfully to the North American surface, and he won’t rest on his laurels as a teenaged grand-slam winner.
“I feel the same pressure like the other players,” said the world number two. “I want to win matches. It’s normal pressure. I want to win every match, every time when I go to the court. I want to win the match. After Roland Garros, every other pressure is normal.”
There was no luck for second seed Lleyton Hewitt, who only managed seven games before retiring with gastroenteritis to hand a 4-3 win in 29 minutes to French qualifier Florent Serra.
Hewitt will now aim for recovery in time for next week’s event in Cincinnati, Ohio, after quitting for only the second time in 504 career singles matches.
The second-seeded Australian arrived in Canada last weekend with new actress bride Bec Cartwright already feeling poorly. Officials said he was seen by a doctor in recent days.
“I’ve just had some kind of stomach virus the last three or four days,” said the Australian, “It just got worse and worse. Out in the heat today, I just felt like I had nothing out there.”
Spain’s Juan Carlos Ferrero made a solid start on cement as he put out jet-lagged seventh seed Guillermo Coria of Argentina, who arrived from European clay at the weekend, 6-3, 6-2.
Swedish 12th seed Thomas Johansson beat Croatian giant Ivo Karlovic 6-1, 7-5, while Taylor Dent scored an upset over number 13 Ivan Ljubicic, and Sweden’s Robin Soderling ousted number 14 Czech Radek Stepanek.—Sapa-DPA