Verdasco gives Ball the boot in Melbourne

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Ninth seed Fernando Verdasco ground down a stubborn Carsten Ball to advance to the second round of the Australian Open Tuesday.

The left-handed Spaniard initially had trouble against the gangly Australian wildcard, losing the first set in a tiebreak before he clinched the match 6-7 7-6 7-5 6-2.

Verdasco, who won the invitational Kooyong Classic before the Australian Open, had a solid workout against the 22-year-old Ball, who had a poor service game but attacked the world number nine at every opportunity to keep him off his stride.

Both players had several opportunities to seize the initiative before Verdasco broke Ball's serve twice in both the third and fourth sets to come through in just over three hours.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Alastair Himmer)