Fifth-seeded Denis Istomin and No. 7 Lleyton Hewitt reached the second round of the ATP Tour SAP Open on Monday with straight-set victories.
Uzbekistan’s Istomin snapped a three-match losing streak with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over ATP tour newcomer Roman Borvanov of Moldova.
Istomin reached the semi-finals in his San Jose debut last year, falling to eventual champion Fernando Verdasco.
Australia’s Hewitt advanced with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Germany’s Bjorn Phau.
Former world No. 4 James Blake opened his campaign this year with a victory, downing qualifier Jesse Levine 7-5, 6-1.
In other matches, American Donald Young defeated German Dustin Brown 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, Michael Russell edged fellow American Alex Kuznetsov 6-4, 6-2 and wildcard Tim Smyczek defeated Colombian Robert Farah 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.
The opening night of the tournament featured an exhibition match in which France’s Gael Monfils defeated 14-time Grand Slam champion Pete Sampras 7-6 (7/4), 6-4.
Monfils emerged the winner in a lighthearted contest, taking a camera from a photographer to snap Sampras at one point.
Sampras, 39, was appearing in an exhibition here for the fourth straight year. He displayed his serve-and-volley skills while bantering with the crowd.
“Physically, that’s the most I’ve served and volleyed in the last seven years,” Sampras said. “Not easy. Gael is a great mover, returns well and made me work really hard on my service game. All in all, I’m very happy with the way I played.”
This exhibition marked Monfils’ debut at the San Jose tournament. He will no doubt be hoping his first appearance will follow the pattern of Verdasco’s last season, when the Spaniard followed up an exhibition win over Sampras by winning the title.
AFP, ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS
The 2008 Rotterdam Open champion Michael Llodra of France cantered through his first round match on Monday handing Russia’s former top 10 player Nikolay Davydenko his second successive first round exit.
Llodra, who won the title at the Ahoy stadium in 2008 over Swede Robin Soderling — the two-time Roland Garros finalist and top seed at this edition — beat Davydenko 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).
Davydenko, who won his last title more than a year ago in Doha, came from a break down in the opening set, but was never in the contest with 22-ranked Llodra, who fired a dozen aces in just over 90 minutes.
The Frenchman will play either Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan or Russian qualifier Dmitry Tursunov in the second round.
Croatian Marin Cilic, another former top ranked player whose game has fallen into a bit of a rut and sees him ranked 28th in the world, began his campaign with a comprehensive 6-2, 6-4 defeat of German Mischa Zverev.
The 22-year-old Croat reached his last semi-final in August in Washington. He also failed to defend the early-season titles he won in both 2009 and last year in Chennai, India, and the Croatian stop in Zagreb.
OPEN GAZ DE FRANCE
Kristina Barrois of Germany -rallied to beat Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 on Monday to set up a second-round match at the Open Gaz de France against Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters.
The 78th-ranked Barrois served seven aces and converted four of 13 breakpoints at Stade Pierre de Coubertin in Paris.
The top-seeded Clijsters needs to reach the semi-finals to take the No. 1 ranking from Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.