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Rafael Nadal advances at Miami Open

dpa logodpa 24/03/2017 Steven Wine

Rafael Nadal has beaten Dudi Seal in straight sets at the Miami Open.

Rafael Nadal's first fist pump of the day followed his second point in the Miami Open, when he kissed a forehand off the sideline to win a long rally.

He accompanied the celebratory gesture with a skip in his step and then hit the accelerator, holding every service game to beat Dudi Sela 6-3 6-4.

Thus began Nadal's latest bid to win Key Biscayne.

"A lot of big motivation," he said.

He's playing the tournament for the 13th time and has never won it, although he was the runner-up in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2014. At 0 for 12, it's Nadal's longest drought at any event, and perhaps the most glaring gap in the 14-time grand slam champion's resume.

Does it bug him? He won't admit to any frustration, but lets slip that he still remembers the exact score when he was two points from the title in the third set versus Novak Djokovic.

That was six years ago.

"Against Novak - 6-5, 15-30," Nadal said.

"It didn't happen."

The Spaniard has always enjoyed the atmosphere in Miami, where Latin fans give him enthusiastic support, and he likes the tournament's hard courts. He's simply overdue.

"I'm trying my best every year," Nadal told the stadium crowd after dispatching Sela. "I've been very close four times. I will try to give myself another chance."

Nadal is 15-4 this year and pleased with his play.

He lost to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final, and again in the fourth round at Indian Wells last week.

Against Sela, Nadal served well, erased the only two break points he faced and overcame the occasional errant groundstroke on a windy afternoon.

Making Nadal's title bid easier will be the absence of six-time champion Djokovic and two-time champion Andy Murray, both out with elbow injuries.

But No.3-seeded Milos Raonic is back from a leg injury, winning his first match since February 25, beating Viktor Troicki 6-3 7-5.

Second seed Kei Nishikori beat Kevin Anderson 6-4 6-3 while the seventh-seeded Marin Cilic lost to Jeremy Chardy 6-4 2-6 6-3.

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