Coria's first round blues continue

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STILL GOING STRONG: Tim Henman had to fend off a tough challenge from Italian wild card Alessio Di Mauro to advance into the second round of the Rome Masters on Tuesday. PHOTO: AP
STILL GOING STRONG: Tim Henman had to fend off a tough challenge from Italian wild card Alessio Di Mauro to advance into the second round of the Rome Masters on Tuesday. PHOTO: AP

ROME: Guillermo Coria's troubles continued with a 6-3, 6-2 first-round loss to Spain's Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo at the Rome Masters here on Tuesday while defending champion Rafael Nadal beat 2004 winner and compatriot Carlos Moya 6-1, 2-6, 6-2.

The win was Nadal's 48th straight on clay and means the 19-year-old can match Guillermo Vilas' record 53-match winning streak on the surface if he retains his title.

Also advancing were sixth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko and Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis. Davydenko, who lost to David Nalbandian in the Estoril final on Sunday, beat Boris Pashanskia 6-1, 6-4 while Baghdatis advanced with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Olivier Rochus, who won his second career title in Munich last week.

Familiar nemesis

Last year's runner-up, Coria also lost in the first round last week in Munich to Germany's Denis Gremelmayr. The 93rd-ranked Hidalgo had beaten Coria in their last meeting in Buenos Aires earlier this year.

In other matches, 14th-seeded Radek Stepanek improved to a career record of 6-0 against Spain's Feliciano Lopez with a 6-4, 6-4 win; Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic beat Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand 6-1, 6-3; and Tim Henman eliminated Italian wild card Alessio Di Mauro 7-5, 7-6(2).

Henman's ranking has dropped to a 10-year low 70th. The 31-year-old serve-and-volley specialist had to fend off three break and set points at 4-5 in the first set. He saved his best tennis for the tie-break, though, jumping out to a 4-0 lead before closing out the match. "It was a very even match. Unfortunately, I wasted a lot of opportunities," Di Mauro said.

Zheng Jie on fire

Meanwhile, Zheng Jie, who won the second singles title of her career only two days ago, showed no signs of tiredness from her triumphant efforts when she went on to upset 13th-seeded Nathalie Dechy in the first round of the WTA German Open in Berlin.

The 22-year-old from Szechuan province played a magnificent second set full of wonderfully varied groundstrokes to overcome Dechy.

Zheng's 7-6(4), 6-2 success followed her achievements last week in upsetting the seeds to reach the Estoril Open final, where she won the first all-Chinese final in the history of the WTA Tour, against Li Na.

Li Na retired from that with heat exhaustion before the start of the third set, but if the sturdy Zheng had suffered any energy loss from that encounter, it certainly did not show.

After squeezing the first set against Dechy, she began to show not only greater weight of shot from the baseline, but more angles to open up the court on a slow clay surface and more tactical variety.

Zheng, currently 44 in the world, has a fine chance of overtaking her career highest of 42, if she can beat Anne Kremer of Luxembourg, in the second round.

The results (first round): At Rome (Rome Masters): Xavier Malisse bt Gasto Gaudio 4-6, 6-3, 6-3; Tim Henman bt Alessio Di Mauro 7-5, 7-6(2); Tomas Berdych bt Paradorn Srichaphan 6-1, 6-3; Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo bt Guillermo Coria 6-3, 6-2; Radek Stepanek bt Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-4; Potito Starace bt Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 6-1; Alberto Martin bt Davide Sanguinetti 6-4, 6-2; Gael Monfils bt Tommy Haas 6-2, 3-6, 6-4; Greg Rusedski bt Tommy Robredo 5-7, 6-3, 6-4; Nicolas Kiefer bt Daniele Bracciali 4-6, 6-2, 6-4; Stefano Galvani bt Jiri Novak 6-3, 6-4.

At Berlin (WTA German Open): Anabel Medina bt Tatiana Panova 6-1, 6-2; Zheng Jie bt Nathalie Dechy 7-6(4), 6-2; Laura Pous bt Elena Likhovtseva 6-4, 6-3; Katarina Srebotnik bt Jelena Jankovic 1-6, 6-3, 6-2; Julia Vakulenko bt Marta Domachowska 6-4, 6-3; Catalina Castano bt Sandra Kloesel 2-6, 6-1, 6-1; Julia Schruff bt Emma Laine 6-1, 6-4; Vera Zvonareva bt Gisela Dulko 3-6, 6-2, 6-2; Dinara Safina bt Maria Sanchez Lorenzo 6-1, 6-4; Vera Dushevina bt Tathiana Garbin 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-2; Virginie Razzano bt Ai Sugiyama 6-1, 4-6, 6-2; Nathalie Vierin bt Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-2; Mara Santangelo bt Sabine Lisicki 3-6, 6-2, 6-1; Maria Kirilenko bt Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-3; Kveta Peschke bt Elena Vesnina 6-4, 6-3.

At Prague (WTA ECM Prague Open): Emilie Loit bt Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-4; Melinda Czink bt Antonella Serra Zanetti 1-6, 6-2, 6-2; Zuzana Ondraskova bt Mariana Diaz-Oliva 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-3; Kaia Kanepi bt Marion Bartoli 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2; Alona Bondarenko bt Martina Sucha 7-6(1), 6-2; Stephanie Foretz bt Emanuelle Gagliardi 6-3, 6-3. Agencies

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