by Sean Randall
After a week of Thailand promotions, Rafael Nadal finally gets back to the business of playing tennis on Thursday.
The World No. 1 is in action against qualifier Ruben Bemelmens in the second round at the Bangkok Open. Nadal, who hadn’t won a hardcourt title in 18 months until his US Open triumph, is the heavy favorite to continue his run on cement this week.
Nadal’s lefty countryman, Fernando Verdasco, who’s in the bottom half also open play. “Hot Sauce” goes up against Benjamin Becker.
Ernests Gulbis, a potential Nadal SF opponent, and Jurgen Melzer were winners today.
Across the way in Kuala Lumpur, the tournament lost its defending champion when qualifier Igor Andreev stunned fellow-Russian Nikolay Davydenko 7-6, 5-7, 6-3. In the other upset, 19-year-old Canadian Milos Raonic defeated Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-7(8), 7-6(9), 6-3.
“I’m happy that I kept my composure even after dropping a couple of set points in the first game,” said the 6-foot-3 Raonic after his second career ATP win. “I served well, which was good. It makes it easier when you don’t lose your serve all three sets.”
David Ferrer, Mikhail Youhzny and Marcos Baghdatis were also winners.
Tomorrow, Tomas Berdych and Robin Soderling are featured. And after beating Tomic, Ferrer plays another teen upstart in Yuki Bhambri.
At the WTA event in Tokyo, No. 3 seed Jelena Jankovic was the lone surprise of the day. The struggling Serb fell to Kaia Kanepi. American Coco Vandeweghe was a winner as were Caroline Wozniacki, Vera Zvonareva and Francesca Schiavone who ended Kimiko Date Krumm’s hopes.
Tomorrow has some good matches with Wozniacki v. Radwanska, Zvonareva v. Dementieva and Vandeweghe v. Azarenka.