Kuerten through to R2 at Auckland

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/G/Gustavokuerten.jpg' class='caption'> Former world No. 1 Gustavo Kuerten advances to the second round of the Auckland Open in New Zealand, beating Dutch qualifier Martin Verkerk won 7-6 (5), 6-4 in

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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Former world No. 1 Gustavo Kuerten advanced to the second round of the Auckland Open in New Zealand on Tuesday, beating Dutch qualifier Martin Verkerk won 7-6 (5), 6-4 in straight sets. But Wimbledon runner-up David Nalbandian - the second seed here - lost to Argentinian compatriot Mariano Zabaleta. Three-time French Open champion seeded fourth in Auckland, Kuerten faced qualifier Verkerk of the Netherlands on Tuesday. His supporters were expecting him to have an easy ride against the Dutchman. But Verkerk landed the first blow, breaking the Brazilian. The big Dutchman was using his huge serve well but was showing he had other weapons up his sleeve as the first set went to a tie-break. However, good players have patience and Kuerten hung on - the former world number one finally clinching it won 7-6 (5), 6-4 as Verkerk volleyed into the net. The match was Keurten's first since his opening-round losses in Rome and Paris in October which saw his world ranking drop to 37 by the end of last year. Meanwhile, David Nalbandian, the world's 12th-ranked player and a Wimbledon finalist last summer, followed fifth-seeded Jose Acasuso out of the tournament. He was beaten 2-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3 by Argentinian compatriot Mariano Zabaleta - the two never having previously met in an ATP match. Nalbandian, a quarter-finalist in Auckland last year, took the first set with ease but Zabaleta fought back to level, taking the second set in a tie-break. Nalbandian then seemed to wilt in the oppressive humidity of the Auckland afternoon and Zabaleta took the third 6-3, sending the second seed crashing out of the tournament. (AP)

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