Second seed Milos Raonic secured a comeback win in a successful debut at the ATP Rotterdam World Tennis event, beating Russian qualifier Alexander Kuznetsov 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 7-5 on Tuesday.
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Raonic hammered 19 aces – the last on match points – to reach the second round against the world number 88 challenger.
The Canadian lost the opening set in a tie-breaker before steadying to earn victory in just under two hours. He next plays Italy s Simone Bolelli. “It can be tough to adapt to match conditions, As a qualifier, Kuznetsov already had two matches on this surface. “I was behind, but I m happy with how I fought today. That s the most important thing for me,” said the seed, who struck 46 winners. Holder Tomas Berdych started with a defeat of Tobias Kamke 6-1, 7-5, winning with 11 aces in just under 90 minues. French eighth seed Gilles Simon overcame a slow start to defeat Portugal s Joao Sousa 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.
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The French number two, a semi-finalist at the Ahoy Stadium in 2008 and 2013, was joined in the second round by his compatriot Jeremy Chardy, who advanced as another countryman Julien Benneteau retired 3-3 with a leg injury. Simon wore down the resistance of Portugal s Sousa in just under two-and-a-half hours. The Frenchman saved eight break points and fired eight aces in a laboured victory.
“It was a really difficult match,” said the 19th-ranked winner, who rode a roller-coaster of match momentum against a dangerous number 46 opponent. “I got on top of him in the first set, but he came back to win the set (from 5-2 down). “In the second set I had to come from a break down. I was not particularly happy with my game, but my only solution was to fight as much as possible. “Finally, I got through this one.” Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky reached the second round over Spaniard Marcel Granollers 6-2, 7-6 (9/7) while Canadian Vasek Pospisil spent just an hour in a winning debut with a defeat of German Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-2. Pospisil, the reigning Wimbledon doubles champion, broke Kohlschreiber three times on the way to his fourth win of 2015.
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The Canadian broke the German twice in the second set in what he called a perfect performance. “I played a flawless match, I did everything well,” said the ATP number 59. “My forehand and return were both working. I didn t do much wrong today.” Pospisil will next face the winner from top seed Andy Murray, who plays on Wednesday against France s Nicolas Mahut. Gael Monfils beat Edouard Roger-Vasselin in a French battle 6-3, 6-2.