Rising star Nadal gets clay-court lesson from Corretja


  • Other Sport
  • Thursday, 24 Apr 2003

BARCELONA: Veteran Alex Corretja ended the giant-killing run of teenaged Rafael Nadal, holding off an early assault from the young Spaniard yesterday to survive 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 into the third round of the Barcelona Open. 

A week after stunning reigning French Open holder Albert Costa in the first round in Monte Carlo, strapping 16-year-old Nadal set his sights on another leading member of his nation's legendary clay-court Armada. 

Corretja struggled in a tight first set, but stepped it up in the second and third to see off the young pretender, who is tipped fast to become a force in the game. 

The 29-year-old Corretja from Barcelona, seeded eighth with a Number 17 ranking, was joined as a winner on a sunny day three by compatriot Carlos Moya. 

The second seed, wearing his new-look sleeveless shirt, managed a come-back win over Adrian Voinea 7-6 (7-3), 6-3. 

Brazilian seventh seed Gustavo Kuerten, a popular figure in Spain, trailed home player Felix Mantilla early on, but was able to put his second-round defeat last week by Swede Magnus Norman even further out of mind with a win against the Iberian veteran 7-6 (7-1), 6-3. 

The series between the pair has taken a symmetrical turn, with Mantilla winning their first three while Brazil's Guga has now gone 4-0 since with every match being contested on clay. 

“He started out in good form,” said Guga, a three-time champion at Roland Garros. “I was a bit off and was slow to start playing at my best level. 

“But as the match went on, my confidence grew and my game got better. It was a beautiful, sunny day, a great crowd and I had a fine time. 

“My next round will be difficult, but I think I'll be ready.” 

Kuerten next faces Morocco's ninth-seeded Younes El Aynaoui, who stopped Spain's drop shot king Albert Portas 6-4, 6-4. 

Estoril champion winner Nikolay Davydenko of Russia moved ahead at the expense of Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian, the sixth-seeded Argentine, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4). 

There was a second-round loss for last weekend's Monte Carlo finalist Guillermo Coria, victim of an abdominal strain which gave Slovak Dominik Hrbaty a ride into the third round 4-3 when the South American retired. 

Argentine Jose Acasuso stopped Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 6-2 for his second win in two years over the Frenchman. 

Italian qualifier Filippo Volandri continued the miracle run which took him to the Monte Carlo quarter-finals. The 21-year-old beat Spanish journeyman Galo Blanco, 125th in the world but a tough customer on clay, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, recovering from a break down in the final set. – AFP 

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