MADRID, Oct 17 (Reuters) Last year's losing finalist Fernando Gonzalez had to dig deep to edge a 7-6 7-5 win over the combative Nicolas Almagro in his second-round match at the Madrid Masters today.
The Chilean, who was crushed by Roger Federer in last year's final, made a sluggish start on his return to the Madrid Arena and found himself 3-0 down against the Spaniard in the opening set.
But the world number six gritted his teeth and fought his way back into the match, saving a set point on the way to levelling at 6-6 and then weathering six more before clinching the set 13-11 in the tie-break.
It was level pegging in the second until Gonzalez found another gear to break at 6-5 up and secure his place in the third round where he will face Argentine Juan Monaco, who defeated 11th seed Tommy Haas yesterday.
Argentine Guillermo Canas also had to battle hard to snatch a 6-3 3-6 7-5 win over compatriot Agustin Calleri and earn a third-round tie against defending champion Federer.
Canas, seeded 13 in Madrid and some 36 places above Calleri in the rankings, took the first set 6-3 but his rhythm was disrupted when he injured his right ankle and his opponent took the opportunity to level the match.
Canas appeared to be in trouble as he trailed by a break in the deciding set, but he stuck it out as Calleri began to falter and clinched the victory in two hours 23 minutes.
Rafael Nadal, the world number two and winner in Madrid in 2005, makes his debut in this year's tournament when he takes on former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis later today.
Reuters BJR GC1745