Federer, Nadal renew their rivalry

Rafael Nadal teamed with Carlos Moya to beat Roger Federer and his Davis Cup teammate Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the first round of the Rome Maste

updated: May 09, 2007 13:19 IST
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They have met on clay, grass and hard courts, and even in a half-grass, half-clay court exhibition last week.

On Monday, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal played another type of game - doubles.

Nadal teamed with Carlos Moya to beat Federer and his Davis Cup teammate Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the first round of the Rome Masters. "I'm getting to know him pretty well," Federer said. "It was fun."

In singles, Nadal holds a 7-3 career edge over Federer and has won all five matches on clay. Nadal also won his only previous meeting with Federer in doubles, teaming with Tommy Robredo to beat Federer and Yves Allegro at the 2004 Indian Wells Masters.

Nadal wasn't reading anything into the latest victory over his rival. "We're in the second round in doubles, that's it," Nadal said. "Doubles is not the same tension as singles. But it's good practice for singles. It's a good start for singles."

Other matches

In singles, Gilles Simon of France upset 10th-seeded Andy Murray 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 and Spanish qualifier Oscar Hernandez eliminated former No 1 Lleyton Hewitt 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-1.

Both matches were delayed for 2 1/2 hours by rain, and Murray and Hewitt were returning from back injuries.

Murray pulled out of the Monte Carlo Masters last month and Hewitt was playing for the first time in nearly two months. "I didn't feel great physically on the long rallies," Murray said. "I was a bit rusty."

Earlier, 2001 Rome champion Juan Carlos Ferrero rallied to beat Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, and Nicolas Almagro of Spain eliminated Tim Henman of Britain 7-5, 6-1 to set up a second-round match with Federer.

Guillermo Canas, who lost to Nadal in the Barcelona final just over a week ago, came through qualifying and put away Jurgen Melzer of Austria 7-5, 6-2, however fellow Argentine Agustin Calleri, a semifinalist in two of his last four events, lost to Italian wild card Potito Starace 6-3, 6-1.

Marat Safin's match with American qualifier Amer Delic was postponed to Tuesday.

Quick win

Federer, Nadal and the other top six seeded players have first-round byes in singles. Nadal will face either Robby Ginepri or Italian wild card Daniele Bracciali in the second round.

In last year's Rome singles final, Nadal outlasted Federer and won in a fifth-set tiebreaker. Monday's doubles match went by a lot faster.

Nadal and Moya broke Federer's serve to win the first set when Wawrinka netted two backhand volleys.

In the second set, Federer and Wawrinka went ahead with an early break. Wawrinka had a chance to serve out the set at 5-4 - but made two errors to let Nadal and Moya draw even. The match ended when Federer returned Moya's serve into the net on the first match point.

"We wasted some opportunities in the second set, but it's a little different playing those guys in doubles. They stay back a lot," Federer said. "But considering Stan was coming back from injury, I thought we played pretty well."

Wawrinka was a late withdrawal from Switzerland's Davis Cup loss to Spain in February with a knee injury.

"It was to help Stan coming back from injury and because we've never played together before," Federer said of his decision to play doubles. "In Davis Cup, we might play together. We've been talking about it for a year or so. I've always been helping Yves out, so now I'm helping Stan."

The Federer-Nadal doubles match took place on Foro Italico's second stadium and seating was overflowing with fans. Many also stood behind the stands to get a glimpse of the two top players.

The ATP tour has been trying to get its top players to play doubles for years. Last season, no-ad scoring was introduced and 10-point tiebreakers were instituted instead of third sets for doubles.