Commonwealth Games and Asian Games tennis champion Somdev Devvarman of India broke serve three times to overcome local Raven Klaasen 6-4, 6-3 on Monday in a South African Open first-round clash.
German Simon Greul and South African Rik de Voest were other winners as the ATP event began with three predictable results at the sprawling Montecasino entertainment center in a plush northern Johannesburg suburb.
Devvarman, who struck Commonwealth gold in New Delhi in October and Asian gold in Guangzhou the following month, always had the measure of qualifier Klaasen.
The first service break gave the 25-year-old Indian the opening set before a modest crowd that watched the action in perfect conditions on a center court created in a car park.
Another break in the second set set up Devvarman for success and a Klaasen ace when 30-15 behind in the ninth game did not prevent his opponent breaking service again and clinching an 83-minute victory.
Stuttgart-based Greul, who turns 30 this year, is ranked 48 places higher than Brazilian Thiago Alves and it showed as he was seldom extended en route to a 6-2, 7-5 victory.
Closest duel of the opening day was the first with wildcard de Voest being taken to three sets by Italian Stefano Galvani before emerging a 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (8/6) victor of a game that began in sunshine and ended under floodlights.
Defending champion Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil defeated Filippo Volandri of Italy 6-2, 6-2 in the first round on Monday at the Movistar Open, the first clay-court tournament of the ATP season.
Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain beat Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 6-4, Russian Igor Andreev downed Eduardo Schwank of Argentina 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), and Pablo Andujar of Spain defeated Australian Peter Luczak 6-4, 6-4.
In other first-round matches, Brazil’s Ricardo Mello won against Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo of Spain 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (8/6), and Spain’s Tommy Robredo defeated Frederico Gil of Portugal 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Fifth-seeded Florian Mayer struggled through to the second round of the Zagreb Indoors on Monday, overcoming Croatian wildcard Franco Skugor 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (8/6).
Elsewhere, Ivan Dodig upset Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-2, Michael Berrer beat Nikola Mektic 7-5, 6-1 and Lukas Lacko defeated Marsel Ilhan 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.
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