Nadal's comeback eased by Ferrer injury

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The Independent Online

Rafael Nadal's first singles match after a lengthy injury lay-off ended abruptly here late on Wednesday night when the Spaniard's Davis Cup team-mate David Ferrer retired hurt during their second-round encounter at the Montreal Masters.

With Nadal leading 4-3 in the opening set and having just broken his opponent for the second time, Ferrer calmly walked over to the umpire and said he could not continue after aggravating a left knee injury.

Ferrer had shown no signs of distress and in fact had dominated stretches of the match. "I had problems with my knee, I cannot play," Ferrer said. "I've had the problem since before Wimbledon and I want to take some treatment. I don't think [the injury is serious], I think next week I will play."

Sidelined for more than two months with tendonitis in both knees, Nadal was playing his first competitive singles match since being knocked out in the fourth round of the French Open in May. Ferrer's retirement puts Nadal into the third round, where he will face Philipp Petzschner of Germany. Yesterday, Novak Djokovic beat Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 6-4 and Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina got the better of Victor Hanescu 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

At the Cincinnati Open there was a surprise defeat yesterday for the third seed Venus Williams, who was beaten 7-6, 6-4, in the third round by in-form Italian Flavia Pennetta. Williams made 38 unforced errors as Pennetta outplayed the American to clinch a fourth victory in their seven meetings.

"I'm really, really happy," Pennetta said. "After winning last week in Los Angeles I took a lot of confidence and it showed on the court today."

Pennetta has now won 14 consecutive matches and fully deserved her victory, constantly making Williams play one more shot than she wanted and unleashing a series of stunning passing strokes herself.

The Italian won the first-set tiebreak 7-2 and though Williams saved three break points in the eighth game of the second set, Pennetta forced two match points two games later and clinched victory when her opponent sent a forehand long.

Pennetta next plays seventh seed Vera Zvonareva of Russia or unseeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia.

Later last night, the former world No 1 Kim Clijsters was due to add momentum to her highly impressive comeback after two years away from the tour. The Belgian was due to face the sixth seed and French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Top seed Dinara Safina was scheduled to meet Peng Shuai of China and No 2 seed Serena Williams had an appointment with Austria's Sybille Bammer.