Rome Masters: Rafael Nadal Scrapes Through Into Third Round, Roger Federer Knocked Out
Rafael Nadal was manhandled by Gilles Simon before the Spaniard came up with a third-set recovery in a 7-6 (7/1), 6-7 (4/7), 6-2 win lasting nearly three and a half hours in chilly night conditions.
Frenchman Jeremy Chardy caught new father Roger Federer on the hop and Rafael Nadal had to fight to survive as leading seeds were tested by Frenchmen in Wednesday's second round of the ATP-WTA Rome Masters.
Federer fell to Jeremy Chardy after missing on a match point to go down to a wind-blown 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8/6) defeat.
Nadal was manhandled by Gilles Simon before the Spaniard came up with a third-set recovery in a 7-6 (7/1), 6-7 (4/7), 6-2 win lasting nearly three and a half hours in chilly night conditions.
The seven-time champion wasted a match point in the 12th game of the second set and lost the ensuing tiebreaker.
It took a massive effort in the third to squeeze out the narrow win.
Federer's loss came barely a week after the 32-year-old became father to his second set of twins, boys this time round as opposed to girls the first occasion.
"Unfortunately, when I had the lead I couldn't stretch it. That's how it happened today. We both struggled at time in the wind - at the end it was a shot here or there that decided the match," said the Swiss.
The fourth seed, who has never won the Rome title, decided to come and have a go on the clay of the Foro Italico after consulting with wife Mirka and his team.
Conditions were brutal for a match played amid great bursts of red clay blowing regularly through the air.
"The conditions made it difficult to prepare a proper game plan or execute the way you wanted. You can't take as much risk, you just put the ball in play rather than going for it," said Federer.
Federer swept the opening set but began to fade in the second as a charged-up Chardy made his move.
Federer, who salvaged seven of eight break points in the final set, saved a first match point.
But he could not touch a freak Chardy crosscourt return which landed on his shoelaces.
"He's not going to make that one very often, But it happens and credit to him. He fought his way back into the match and got it," said Federer.
- Berdych, Murray advance -
Sixth seed Tomas Berdych started his week by beating Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 6-3 while seventh seed Andy Murray took revenge for a defeat a year ago as he beat Marcel Granollers to open with a 6-2, 7-5 victory.
"I did a very good job, it was hard conditions: it affects significantly the way you play and the way you would like to play," said Murray. "I tried to serve high percentage.
"But you have to play the wind, try to use it in your advantage if you can. I thought I did a good job of that."
Murray will next face resurgent Austrian Jurgen Melzer, who beat Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3.
France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga earned his 300th career victory as he beat Kevin Anderson 7-6 (16/14), 7-6 (7/5).
There were also wins into the third round for Grigor Dimitrov, Mikhail Youzhny and Tommy Haas.
In women's second-round play, Serena Williams showed no sign of the thigh injury which forced her withdrawal from a Madrid semi-final as the top seed beat Andrea Petkovic 6-2, 6-2.
"It broke my heart to pull out of Madrid, especially being the defending champion. But I knew that I wanted to play today," said Williams. "I'm not at 100 per cent but it's getting better."
Madrid winner Maria Sharapova remained unbeaten on clay this season with a defeat of Monica Puig 6-3, 7-5, while Madrid runner-up Simona Halep, seeded fourth, beat Madison Keys 5-7, 6-0, 6-1, then retired, citing an abdominal muscle strain.
"I'll fly to Bucharest now for treatment to allow me to train next week for the French Open," said the 2013 Rome semi-finalist.