Wed, Jan 05, 2011 - Page 19 News List

France’s Tsonga makes winning return in Qatar

AP, DOHA

France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga returns the ball to Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo of Spain during their match in Doha on Monday.

PHOTO: AFP

Third-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga began his season with a crushing 6-2, 6-0 win over Spain’s Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo in the first round of the Qatar Open on Monday.

Tsonga had not played since October because of a knee injury, but he showed no signs of rust as he broke serve twice in the first set and three times in the second to complete a one-sided win.

“Yeah, I played a good match,” Tsonga said. “Everybody’s friendly with me here. I feel really good. I’m completely fit. I’m maybe healthier than before and, you know, I just enjoy every moment on the court and that’s it. I hope it will continue.”

Tsonga will face Sergei Bubka in the second round after the Ukrainian wildcard entry, who is the son of the former Olympic and world champion pole-vaulter of the same name, upset Spain’s Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-0, 6-3.

Also on Monday, fourth seed and defending champion Nikolay Davydenko of Russia eased past Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-1, 6-4 in 63 minutes.

Playing an aggressive baseline game, punctuated with solid returns, Davydenko, who beat Rafael Nadal of Spain in last year’s final, broke Fognini in games two and four to take the first set in 25 minutes.

Employing similar tactics, the 29-year-old Russian wasted little time in taking the second set. Davydenko fired six aces and did not face a break point in the entire match.

Top-ranked Rafael Nadal was scheduled to play his first ATP match of the season against Karol Beck of Slovakia yesterday, when two-time champion Roger Federer of Switzerland was scheduled to play Dutch qualifier Thomas Schoorel.

CHENNAI OPEN

AFP, CHENNAI, INDIA

Rising Japanese star Kei Nishikori ended Marin Cilic’s bid for a hat-trick of titles at the ATP Chennai Open with a first round upset on Monday.

The 21-year-old, ranked 98th in the world, fought back after losing the opening set to knock out defending champion and world No. 14 Cilic 4-6, 7-6 (7/0), 6-2 in two hours, 33 minutes in the southern Indian city.

Cilic, who won the Chennai titles in 2009 and last year, appeared set for another confident start to the new year when he breezed through the first set in 46 minutes.

However, Nishikori won a tie-breaker in the second set without dropping a point and then broke Cilic in the first and seventh games of the third set to clinch victory.

A disappointed Cilic said the Japanese youngster deserved to win.

“He played the crucial points better than me,” Cilic said. “It is not a good feeling to lose in the first round as the defending champion, but I think I did not play badly.

Cilic’s defeat opened the tournament up for Chennai first-timer Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, who ended last year as world No. 6.

Berdych, 25, reached the French Open semi-final last year and then stunned Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon on his way to his maiden appearance in a Grand Slam final.

Other contenders for the Chennai title include world No. 21 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland, the French duo of Richard Gasquet and Jeremy Chardy and Serbian Janko Tipsarevic.

The sixth-seeded Tipsarevic opened his campaign with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Eduardo Schwank of Argentina in a late-night match.

Robert Kendrick of the US also moved into the second round by defeating Denis Gremelmayr of Germany 7-6 (7/1), 6-4, while Stephane Robert of France beat Andreas Haider-Maurer of Austria 6-4, 6-4.

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