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Weary Rafa battles through

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 12:07

The top seed from Spain – playing his 91st singles match of the year – eased through the first set by breaking lucky loser Serra twice, but had more problems in the second.

He closed the contest out in 73 minutes but is expected to be given a much sterner examination by another Frenchman, 16th seed Gael Monfils, in the third round.

Earlier, reigning champion David Nalbandian got his title defence off to a good start by dismissing Nicolas Kiefer 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 in a match that lasted more than two hours.

The eighth seed won the tournament in some style 12 months ago, beating Roger Federer and Nadal along the way, and he looks to have found some end-of-season form this year too, having come to Bercy on the back of a final appearance in Basle last week.

He showed some flashes of brilliance against Kiefer and will play fellow Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro in a potentially mouthwatering third-round match.

Meanwhile, fifth seed David Ferrer’s hopes of qualifying for next month’s season-ending Masters Cup went up in smoke as he was dumped out by Philipp Kohlschreiber in straight sets. The German was in inspired form in winning 6-3 6-2, denying his Spanish opponent automatic entry to the Shanghai showpiece.

Ferrer came to Paris ninth in the ATP points race and needing to better the performance of one of the three players – Gilles Simon, Del Potro and Andy Roddick – above him, which he cannot now do. Kohlschreiber will play either James Blake or qualifier Simone Bolelli next.

Frenchman Simon, clinging onto eighth spot in the race for Shanghai, consolidated his position by ousting Russia’s Igor Andreev 6-3 7-5. The 10th seed, who came back from 4-0 down in the second set, plays sixth seed Roddick in the third round.

Elsewhere, Marin Cilic defeated Spanish qualifier Marcel Granollers 6-4 7-6 (7/2) and could meet Federer next, while sixth seed Nikolay Davydenko beat Ivan Ljubicic 7-6 (7/5) 7-5.

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