The French flag flew proudly in Montreal on Monday as Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils advanced to the second round of the Rogers Cup.
Both Frenchmen enjoyed straight-sets victories, while compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had his match delayed by rain in the final action of the day’s first round.
Monfils needed just over an hour to dispatch Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-1, denying the Italian a single break in the match.
“I wanted to start off this tournament well. It was not a great match, but I didn’t play bad,” Monfils told reporters. “I played a solid match. It was important to me.”
Ninth-seeded Simon extended his perfect record against Andreas Seppi to 5-0 with his 6-2, 6-4 victory.
Simon broke Seppi three times and he too never lost serve.
Tsonga was leading his opening set against Croatia’s Borna Coric 2-1 when play was suspended.
Defending champion Tsonga has fallen to No. 24 in the world, his lowest ranking since bursting onto the scene following the 2008 Australian Open.
The leading eight seeds, including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, all had first-round byes.
Djokovic, Murray, Nadal and Milos Raonic learned the identities of their second-round opponents on Monday.
Top seed Djokovic is to start after the bye when he faces Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci, who worked for two-and-three-quarter hours to defeat Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 7-6 (7/4).
The South American fired 14 aces to 11 for Cuevas, with Bellucci forced to save nine of 12 break points.
Djokovic, who has not touched a racquet since beating Roger Federer for the Wimbledon title a month ago, will start in Canada with a 48-3 record that includes six titles this year, including the Australian Open crown.
Murray, seeded second and champion in 2010 and 2011, warmed up for his singles start by reaching the doubles second round alongside India’s 42-year-old Leander Paes.
The one-off pairing beat Kevin Anderson and Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 6-1 as Murray began finding his feet on the hard courts after an opening singles loss last week in Washington to Russian Teimuraz Gabashvili.
In the singles, the Scot is set to face Spaniard Tommy Robredo, a winner over his compatriot, Feliciano Lopez, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in a battle of 33-year-olds who have competed a combined 21 times in Canada.
Robredo stands a perfect 5-0 in a series first played a dozen years ago. Murray leads Robredo 5-3, and has not lost to the Spaniard in five years.
Nadal and fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco joined in the week’s doubles lark, defeating last year’s Wimbledon doubles champion Jack Sock and Czech Tomas Berdych 6-3, 5-7, 10-6.
Nadal now must concentrate on a singles start against Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky, who beat Canadian wild-card Filip Peliwo 6-1, 5-7, 6-2. Nadal won his only match with Stakhovsky in Davis Cup two years ago.
Raonic, seeded eighth, is still working on a comeback after May foot surgery that has hampered his game in recent weeks, keeping him off court after skipping Wimbledon.
The Canadian will test himself against Ivo Karlovic after the burly Croatian serving machine beat Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz 6-4, 7-6 (8/6) in the first round.
Karlovic is bearing down on an ATP record, having added 18 aces to a career total of 9,964. He now stands just 201 behind historic leader and countryman Goran Ivanisevic (10,183 aces in 895 matches). Karlovic has played 526 matches with an average of 19 per match.
Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is buying the Forum for US$400 million, ending the billionaire’s legal fight with Madison Square Garden Co (MSG) and clearing the way to build a new arena for his NBA team down the street in Inglewood, California. Ballmer on Tuesday announced his cash purchase of the venerated arena. Ballmer, a former Microsoft executive, and Clippers vice chairman Dennis Wong are making the transaction through CAPSS LLC, a newly formed entity that would continue to operate the Forum as a live music venue. “This is an unprecedented time, but we believe in our collective future,” Ballmer said.
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