Nadal eases through as Djokovic falls in Miami

Miami: Rafael Nadal made an efficient start on a rain-soaked day at the WTA and ATP Miami Masters as the fourth seed subdued American Taylor Dent 6-4, 6-3 in his opening match.

The routine win in just over an hour was straightforward for Nadal, a two-time Miami finalist looking to stop the rot and win his first title since Rome last May.

The Spaniard moved through despite a painful wisdom tooth which must be removed after his tournament ends.

But there was high drama on court for most of the afternoon on Friday as Belgium`s pocket rocket Olivier Rochus pounded out a 6-2, 6-7 (7/9), 6-4 opening upset over Novak Djokovic to knock the second-seeded Serb out.

The victory marked the second win over a top 10 player in Miami for Rochus, who stands just 1.67 metres and ranks 59th in the world.

"He made me run a lot, the points were long, I`m exhausted," said Djokovic. "He was playing really well today, He deserved the win.”

"He was motivated to win against a top player and had nothing to lose. He coped well."

Nadal improved to 13-3 on the season and 18-6 in Miami, where he lost finals in 2005 (to Roger Federer) and 2005 (to Nikolay Davydenko).

Djokovic and Rochus, were delayed for two and a half hours at their start as a rainstorm swept over Key Biscayne. They were also interrupted for 52 minutes after the ninth game of the second set by more bad weather.

Rochus fought like a tiger throughout the contest, sweeping the first set and battling hard in the second under a barrage of break points.

The underdog was broken leading 5-4 and serving for the win in the third, but the Belgian broke back for victory as Djokovic sailed a forehand over the baseline after almost three hours on court plus the nearly one-hour rain delay.

"It was a very close match, so I knew I could do something," said the surprised winner. "I just tried my best.”

"I had played well in the first round, so I was feeling confident. But of course I never expected to win."

The frustrated Djokovic was left to ponder 10 double-faults and six broken serves.

Djokovic, the 2007 champion, lost his fourth match of the season against 15 wins less than a month after lifting his 17th career title in Dubai.

The 22-year-old Serb, runner-up last year to Andy Murray, stands 1-3 against Rochus.

It was a second straight disappointment for Djokovic after losing in the Indian Wells fourth round last week to eventual champion Ivan Ljubicic.

"I didn`t feel great on the court and everyone could see," said Djokovic. "Life goes on. I`ll try to make up for this loss.”

"I wasn`t attacking, I was waiting for him to make shots. It wasn`t the right approach."

Two other seeds advanced, with 12th seed Juan Carlos Ferrero moving through as Austrian Daniel Koellerer retired while trailing 4-0 and 15th seed David Ferrer scoring a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Frenchman Michael Llodra.

A pair of Americans were bundled out as Frenchman Jeremy Chardy stopped Sam Querrey 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 and Brazil`s Tomaz Bellicci added to the misery of veteran James Blake with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 defeat.

Women`s seeds fared better with wins all round.

Holder Victoria Azarenka, seeded fourth, beat Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru 6-3, 6-2 while number seven Jelena Jankovic backed up her weekend title at Indian Wells 6-4, 6-0 triumph over Mariya Koryttseva.

Australian ninth seed Samantha Stosur staged a fightback to take out Spain`s Carla Suarez Navarro 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.

US Open winner Kim Clijsters put last week`s early defeat behind her with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Czech Petra Kvitova. Italian number 15 Francesca Schiavone defeated Alize Cornet of France 6-3, 6-2.

Bureau Report