Nadal struggles against Mello, seeded Blake ousted
MIAMI: Kim Clijsters began her farewell appearance at the Sony Ericsson Open by sweeping the last dozen games to overwhelm Akiko Morigami 4-6 6-0 6-0 on Friday in the second round.
Men’s second seed Rafael Nadal, champion last weekend in California, struggled in the opening set but managed to beat Brazil’s Riccado Mello 7-6 6-2. Eighth seed James Blake, who needed treatment for a wrist injury, was upset 7-6 2-6 6-3 by Frenchman Florent Serra but his Davis Cup team mate Andy Roddick beat Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina, 6-3 6-2.
Clijsters, the 23-year-old women’s 2005 champion from Belgium, is due to retire later this season following her July marriage to American basketball player Brian Lynch. The fourth seed needed a set to find her feet before ripping past the 63rd-ranked Japanese, finishing with a forehand winner. Fellow Belgian Justine Henin, seeded second, survived a shaky start to defeat American Vania King 6-4 6-1.
Henin, who captured titles in Dubai and Doha last month, acknowledged a lack of match fitness against the world number 78. There were wins for seventh seed Jelena Jankovic, who beat China’s Peng Shuai 6-2 6-4, Russian Dinara Safina, a 6-1 6-1 winner over Laura Granville, and Li Na, who put out Tamira Paszek 6-2 6-0.
Blake fired an ace to save a match point, then took treatment for a wrist injury late in his struggle with Serra.