Thu, Apr 15, 2010 - Page 19 News List

Cilic passes Monte Carlo Russian test

LOOKS FAMILIAROther winners included Stanislas Wawrinka, who defeated Romania’s Victor Hanescu two days after beating him in the final in Casablanca

AFP , MONTE CARLO

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga celebrates after defeating Nicolas Almagro in their second-round match at the Monte Carlo Open on Tuesday.

PHOTO: EPA

Croatian fourth seed Marin Cilic flirted with danger on Tuesday against Russian Igor Andreev in his first clay court match of the season before prevailing 6-7 (4/7), 6-1, 6-4 in their second-round clash.

Former Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga played to the crowd as the charismatic Frenchman finally made his main-draw debut in the principality, defeating Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 7-6 (7/5), 7-5 also in the second round.

Tenth-ranked Tsonga came through in just over two hours, losing serve just once on the way to a match against either two-time champion Juan Carlos Ferrero or German Benjamin Becker.

“It was not an easy first match, he’s [Almagro] played a bit more than me on that surface,” the winner said. “But I’m adapting pretty quickly, just a little while to get used to it and off I went.”

“It’s always good to win. It’s good for your confidence, especially against a player like him,” Tsonga said.

Cilic took his time getting into form as he played for the first time since a long Davis Cup match last September on clay.

“It was my first match on the clay this season and Igor has some matches already,” said Cilic, who took his record on head to heads to 4-1. “He really pushed me, it was a good opening match.”

Cilic faced 18 break points, saving 14 in the struggle with the Russian. The big-hitting Croatian was held to a modest five aces and broke Andreev on 11 of his 19 chances.

Spain’s sixth seed Fernando Verdasco started with a win over France’s Julien Benneteau 6-2, 6-1.

There were also wins for Michael Llodra, who put out Italian Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-3 and Florent Serra, a winner over Gallic compatriot Stephane Robert 7-6 (8/6), 3-6, 6-4.

Miami finalist and tenth seed Tomas Berdych ended the hopes of Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-2, 6-0.

Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka repeated his Casablanca title victory of Sunday as he again beat Romanian Victor Hanescu 6-2, 6-4. The top eight seeds benefitted from first-round byes, with No.1 seed Novak Djokovic, five-time champion Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray due to start yesterday.

■FAMILY CIRCLE CUP

AP, CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA

Former champion Jelena Jankovic shook off a passive start to win her opening match of the Family Circle Cup over unseeded Edina Gallovits 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Tuesday.

It was Jankovic’s first match on clay this season and she struggled. The Serbian, ranked seventh in the world, put five shots into the net in her first three games.

However, she pulled herself together after the first set, breaking the Romanian in the second set. She wouldn’t trail on serve for the rest of the hard-fought match, despite screaming at herself a couple of times after missing shots. She didn’t smile until Gallovits netted her shot during a long rally on match point.

“I think it’s a good thing I played a tough match like that because it gives you confidence and you get fitter and fitter for the next rounds,” said Jankovic, the 2007 champ who gets a day off before her round of 16 match today.

Gallovits, who came into the match ranked 127th in the world, was able to place her shots well in the first two sets. However, by the third set of the two-hour match, balls that were just in suddenly started going wide and long.

Gallovits said she tired mentally, not physically.

“I feel like I pushed too much when I shouldn’t have and I didn’t go for it when I had it,” Gallovits said. “It was hard to find the median in the third set.”

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