Leggy models won't distract Corretja

MADRID: Leggy models as ballgirls won't be a distraction to family man Alex Corretja after the veteran moved into the second round of the Madrid Masters yesterday. 

Corretja, a former Roland Garros finalist whose game has fallen onto hard times after turning 30 this year, was delighted after posting a 7-5, 6-1 victory over frustrated fellow Spaniard David Ferrer. 

With the win improving his record this season to a modest 11-18, father-of-one Corretja - his second child is on the way - could care less who is tossing him the ball on court. 

The tournament has introduced a public relations wrinkle, hiring young Latin lovelies as ball girls for evening television matches at the Rockodromo. 

The unusual move has its critics, but for Corretja, the players can't be bothered to notice. 

“You're not going to get distracted, only if they don't know how to throw the ball,” said the veteran.  

“I don't care, the tournament can decide what they want. 

“No one is speaking about this in the locker room, you only look at the ball anyway out there.  

“If they throw us the balls as they should, it's fine.” 

Sweden's 20-year-old hope Robin Soderling followed up his first tournament title last month by opening with a win against German youngster Florian Mayer 6-3, 7-6 (7-2). 

Soderling, ranked 34th, showed the way for two other compatriots in the field, seventh-seeded Joachim Johansson, a US Open semi-finalist against Lleyton Hewitt, and Jonas Bjorkman, both starting later in the week. 

Soderling moved into a clash against Argentine fourth seed David Nalbandian at a tournament where all 16 seeds received free passes into the second round. 

Others to move through on opening day included American Robby Ginepri, who defeated Jean Luis Rascon of Spain 6-1, 6-4 and Luis Horna of Peru, who next plays holder Juan Carlos Ferrero thanks to a victory over Hicham Arazi 6-4, 7-5. – dpa 

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