I need to play better to win Chennai Open: Nadal

By Anand Philar, IANS

Chennai : World No.2 Rafael Nadal said he needed to play much better tennis than he did here Tuesday if he were to win the ATP Chennai Open tournament.

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The 21-year old Spaniard admitted that he played well only in patches while vanquishing Mathieu Montcourt of France 6-2, 6-4.

“Most of the first set and better part of the second, I thought I played well. But in the eighth game of the second set, I committed too many mistakes and dropped serve. I then had to play better to close the match in the 10th,” he said.

Nadal said he had no fitness worries, but declined to look further than his second round match when asked about his expectations for the 2008 season.

“It is just the first tournament of the year and so, I cannot comment on how the season would progress for me. May be if you ask me after the Miami tournament (March 24-April 6), I will be able to say how the season is going for me,” he asserted.

As for his chances at the Chennai Open keeping in mind his performance, Nadal said: “Every match is going to be tough and I have to be at the top of my game if I hope to win the title here.”

Nadal is slated to play qualifier Rajeev Ram (US) who beat Yuri Schukin (Russia) 7-6 (6), 7-6 (2).

Commening on the surprise defeat of second seed Marcos Baghdatis earlier in the evening Tuesday, Nadal said: “I feel sorry for Marcos. He is a good friend of mine, but then, it can happen to me also if I do not play better tennis than I did tonight.”

On playing conditions in Chennai, Nadal was all praise. “This is my third visit to Chennai and I have always enjoyed the conditions here and also the crowd.”

Asked whether he had made any New Year resolutions, Nadal quipped amidst laughter: “Resolution on what?”

The results (1st round):

Singles: 1-Rafael Nadal (ESP) bt Mathieu Montcourt (FRA) 6-2, 6-4; Robin Haase (NED) bt 2-Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) 6-3, 6-4; 7-Werner Eschauer (AUT) bt Q-Bartolome Salva-Vidal (ESP) 7-6 (3), 5-7, 6-4; Kristof Vliegen (BEL) bt 8-Marc Gicquel (FRA) 7-6 (5), 6-4; Q-Lovro Zovko (CRO) bt Theirry Ascione (FRA) 6-4, 6-0; Gullermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) bt Q-Alexander Peya (AUT) 6-4, 6-4; Q-Rajeev Ram (US) bt Yuri Schukin (RUS) 7-6 (6), 7-6 (2).