WIMBLEDON, England (AP) – Green on grass, Rafael Nadal stumbled Thursday at Wimbledon.

The French Open champion converted only one of 13 break-point chances and lost in the second round to unseeded Gilles Muller 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Nadal, 19, had said he was too inexperienced on grass courts to win Wimbledon this year, and missed opportunities doomed him against Muller.

“He played better than me,” Nadal said. “I am playing good on grass. But (against) any player, when he serves good all match, it’s difficult. And Muller served at a very good level all the time. It’s not easy.”

Nadal was eliminated two days after French Open women’s champion Justine Henin-Hardenne lost in the first round.

Also ousted was Englishman Tim Henman, who failed to make it into the second week of the tournament for the first time since 1995. Henman lost to Dmitry Tursunov 3-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 8-6.

Easing the anguish of fans was an upset win by Andrew Murray, an 18-year-old Scotsman ranked 312th. The last Brit in the tournament, male or female, Murray beat No. 14-seeded Radek Stepanek 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

“I didn’t really expect to win at all,” Murray said. “He’s a lot better than me.”

No British man has won Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.

No. 2 Andy Roddick led Daniele Bracciali 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (3) when their match was suspended until today because of darkness.

On the women’s side, the Williams sisters advanced to the third round. No. 4-seeded Serena dropped the first set for the second straight match but rallied to beat qualifier Mara Santangelo 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. No. 14 Venus defeated Nicole Pratt 7-5, 6-3.

The sisters, both two-time champions, could meet in the fourth round.

“We always motivate each other to be our best,” Venus said. “In the end we just want equal for each other, or maybe more for each other.”

French Open runner-up Mary Pierce saved a match point with an ace and beat qualifier Julia Vakulenko 4-6, 7-6 (7), 9-7.

Defending Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova won the first nine games, lost just four points in the second set and beat 15-year-old Sesil Karatantcheva 6-0, 6-1.

Karatantcheva defeated Venus Williams last month at the French Open and reached the quarterfinals there. But the young Bulgarian was unable to pull off another upset.

“I knew she got to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam,” Sharapova said. “Obviously, grass is totally different.”

Nadal, playing his sixth career match on grass, hit 11 aces, lost his serve just three times and had 37 winners to only 21 unforced errors. But as often happens in lawn tennis, the match came down to a handful of key points, and the Spaniard lost them.

In the pivotal third set, Nadal dropped his serve at love when he double-faulted to fall behind 5-3. Muller served out the set, then broke again for a 3-2 lead in the fourth set and held serve the rest of the way to win the duel of left-handers.

The last man to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year remains Bjorn Borg in 1980.

“Maybe Nadal is never going to win Wimbledon,” said Muller, ranked 69th. “He is not playing serve-and-volley, so I think it’s tough for him to win Wimbledon.”

But Nadal said he has high hopes for the future.

“When I improve my serve, I can win a lot of matches here,” Nadal said. “Sometimes I’m a little bit nervous when I serve because I know if I don’t win the game, I can lose the set. This is what happens on grass.”

While the No. 4-seeded Nadal was sidelined, another promising 19-year-old player advanced. No. 27 Richard Gasquet of France hit 18 aces and beat qualifier Gilles Elseneer 7-6 (7), 7-6 (3), 6-7 (3), 6-2.

French compatriot Sebastien Grosjean, a semifinalist the past two years, beat Victor Hanescu 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

Only minutes after Nadal was eliminated, Tursunov finished off Henman.

The No. 6-seeded Henman had the partisan crowd on Centre Court in a frenzy when he overcame two match points and broke for 5-all in the final set. But he was broken to fall behind 7-6, and this time Tursunov served out the match, belting his 20th ace on the final point.

“I’ve certainly won my fair share of matches like that in that environment, and I got myself back into it,” Henman said. “To not be able to finish that off and not come out of that with a win is disappointing.”

The upset wasn’t the first at Wimbledon for Tursunov, ranked 152nd. He won his tournament debut last year by beating Marat Safin.

Karatantcheva held her own at the start against Sharapova. The first game lasted 14 points, and the Bulgarian had five game points in the opening set – but failed to convert any. In the second set, Kratantcheva lost the first 12 points and the last 12.

“Grass for now is definitely not my thing,” she said. “I’m not sure I was ready for such a good opponent in such a little time on grass.”

Sharapova, seeded second, has lost only five games in two matches.

“I think I played a lot better than I did in the first round,” she said. “Obviously, in the first round you’re going to have a little bit of nerves. I got a lot better. Hopefully, I’ll keep improving, because the tennis is going to get tougher.”

Karatantcheva totaled three winners and 20 unforced errors. When she finally won a game for 3-1 in the second set, she looked to the sky and smiled, then sheepishly covered her eyes as the Court 1 crowd roared in support.

“I was like, Oh, my God, they’re feeling sorry for me,”‘ Karatantcheva said. “I couldn’t help but smile, that was so sweet. … I tried to put myself together, but I didn’t really get a chance.”

She failed to win another point, and Sharapova closed the victory in 46 minutes.

AP-ES-06-23-05 1601EDT


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