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Nadal made to toil by Bulgarian wildcard

TOP-RANKED Rafael Nadal was pushed hard by 17-year-old junior champion Grigor Dimitrov in prevailing 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 to reach the ABN Amro quarterfinals in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on Thursday.

Dimitrov showed he wasn't nervous or intimidated when the 478th-ranked wildcard from Bulgaria broke Nadal for 4-4, only to lose his serve again at 5-5 as Nadal won the first set.

Last year's Wimbledon and US Open junior champ broke Nadal at 4-3 in the second and held on to force a decider. There, Nadal's experience told, as he saved two break points and finally won after 2 hours, 26 minutes, as Dimitrov suffered leg cramps.

"He will certainly be a great player and for sure reach the top 10," Nadal said.

Seventh-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, last week's champion in Johannesburg, meets Nadal next after the Frenchman beat Dmitry Tursunov of Russia 7-6 (6), 6-2.

Also in the second round, second-seeded Andy Murray beat Andreas Seppi of Italy 7-6 (4), 7-5, and fifth-seeded Gael Monfils ousted defending champion Michael Llodra 6-4, 6-4.

Murray fought back from a 1-3 deficit in the second set, claiming the decisive break at 5-5 over Seppi, who beat Nadal in last year's event. Next up for Murray will be lucky loser Marc Gicquel of France, who has taken advantage as a late replacement for injured 2008 finalist Robin Soderling by beating countryman Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4, 6-3.

In San Jose, California, Andy Roddick struggled to victory as Juan Martin del Potro and James Blake made it look easy, advancing to the quarterfinals at the SAP Open on Thursday.

Roddick had his hands full as he defeated Ernests Gulbis 6-3, 7-6 (3). Last year, Gulbis gave Roddick trouble at the US Open when he took the first set before the American took the match in four.

"I guess I started off pretty well," said Roddick. "But he started serving really well in the second set."

No. 2 seeded Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina made short work of Japan's Kei Nishikori 6-2, 6-2 to make it the quarterfinals.

American Blake beat Florent Serra of France 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals of a tournament he's never won despite having now made the last eight four times.


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