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Nadal defeats Gasquet in Malaysia
From correspondents in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
November 21, 2007
WORLD No.2 Rafael Nadal played an aggressive game to come from behind and beat Frenchman Richard Gasquet 3-6 6-2 6-3 in a showpiece match in Malaysia.
The muscle-bound Mallorcan played a one-off match against Gasquet as part of Malaysia's 50th anniversary celebrations of its independence from Britain.
The 21-year-old Nadal brushed past his opponent with a strong display of pinpoint forehand and court craft to claim victory.
Nadal, who was thrashed by arch-rival Roger Federer in the Masters Cup on Saturday, lost to Gasquet in the first game but clinched the second set in only 25 minutes before wrapping up the third in 30 minutes.
The Spaniard, who played with both knees strapped, found his rhythm in the second set with a deadly combination of whiplash forehand top-spin drives aimed at the sidelines and end corners of the court.
Nadal, a clay court specialist, has been troubled by tendinitis problems all season, but says he is not injured.
He did not show any signs of injury as he jumped twice in the air to smash a return.
Gasquet, also 21, has risen to No.8 in the world with a Wimbledon semi-final this year signalling his arrival on the world stage.
The Frenchman lost to Nadal, who has held the world No.2 spot for the last three years, in all previous meetings, including in Shanghai last week, where he took Nadal to three sets.
Nadal, undefeated in the French Open for the past three years, holds the longest winning streak on clay after going undefeated for 81 matches from April 2005 to May 2007.
On Thursday, Federer plays retired legend Pete Sampras in Malaysia, also part of the country's independence celebrations.
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