MADRID, Oct 17 (Reuters) Wild card Feliciano Lopez delivered a blow to seventh seed David Ferrer's bid to qualify for the season-ending Masters Cup with a 7-6 7-5 win in his opening match in the Madrid Masters today.
Ferrer started well and looked to be in control of the all-Spanish duel when he took a 4-1 lead in the opening set, but the tall, powerful Lopez bounced back to edge the set on a tie-break.
There was little to separate the two players in the second, but Lopez looked more comfortable on the fast hard court and put Ferrer under pressure on the key points to book his place in the third round.
Last year's losing finalist Fernando Gonzalez had to dig deep to record a 7-6 7-5 win over the combative Nicolas Almagro in his second-round match.
The Chilean, who was crushed by Roger Federer in the 2006 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 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.
LEVEL PEGGING In the second set, Gonzalez broke to go 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 13th, 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.
Big serving Croat Ivo Karlovic, who won in Stockholm earlier this month and blasted past former champion Marat Safin in his opening match, hammered out another 20 aces as he saw off lucky loser Oscar Hernandez 7-5 6-2.
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 RN1955