Verdasco wins at Channel Open

Feb 27, 2007 - 12:14 AM LAS VEGAS (Ticker) -- Fifth-seeded Fernando Verdasco's left foot passed the test.

Verdasco won his first match at the Channel Open on Monday as he posted a hard-fought 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 triumph over Paul-Henri Mathieu of France.

The $416,000 hardcourt event is one of five U.S. tournaments which uses a round-robin format. Three players are placed in each of the eight pools with the winners advancing to the quarterfinals.

Verdasco, who is in Group 5, has not played since he was forced to retire due to a foot injury in a first-round match against Fabrice Santoro at the Marseille Open on February 13. The Spaniard improved to just 4-5 this year.

No. 6 Frenchman Julien Benneteau got off to a horrible start in Group 2 as he was overwhelmed by American Paul Goldstein, 6-1, 6-0.

Benneteau also struggled last week, when he was knocked off by unseeded American Sam Querrey in the second round of the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis.

American James Blake is the top seed and defending champion. He is in Group 1 with Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina and Evgeny Korolev of Russia. Del Potro cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Korolev on Monday.

Blake won the inaugural title here last year, beating Lleyton Hewitt of Australia in the final.

The second-seeded Hewitt is in a group with American Vince Spadea.

Seventh-seeded Tim Henman of Britain has not played since October due to knee problems and was forced to postpone his scheduled comeback in Rotterdam last week because of the flu. Henman will face Nicolas Mahut of France on Tuesday.

"Unfortunately, from a tennis point of view, I've only just stepped on court for the first time as I suffered a bit of a relapse with the flu," Henman said. "But I seem to be finally getting over it now and I've been given a Tuesday start so hopefully that will give me a bit of extra time to get ready to go."

First prize is worth $61,850.

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