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Tsonga, Ferrer Advance To Second Round

Johannesburg, South Africa

David Ferrer© Getty ImagesDavid Ferrer

Top-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga knocked out Thiago Alves of Brazil 6-4, 6-1 in 57 minutes on Tuesday for a place in the SA Tennis Open second round. The 23 year old has already advanced to three quarter-finals (Brisbane, Sydney, Australian Open) in as many tournament appearances during the 2009 ATP World Tour season. Alves, 26, dropped to 1-4 in lifetime ATP World Tour play.

Despite dropping seven places to No. 14 in the South African Airways ATP 2009 Rankings after making a quarter-final exit at the Australian Open (l. to Verdasco), Tsonga still has an 8-2 record on the 2009 tennis season and will be looking to capture his third ATP World Tour title in Johannesburg. He lifted two trophies last year in Bangkok (d. Djokovic) and at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tennis tournament in Paris (d. Nalbandian).

Second seed David Ferrer (pictured) got his SA Tennis Open campaign off to a winning start with a comfortable 6-2, 6-0 win over Dudi Sela of Israel in just 58 minutes. Ferrer, who dropped just nine points in the second set, is making his third tournament appearance of the 2009 ATP World Tour season.

Ferrer, No. 13 in the South African Airways ATP 2009 Rankings, visited the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, a World Heritage Site, on the outskirts of Johannesburg on Monday. The 26 year old reached the Auckland semi-finals (l. to Querrey) and the Australian Open third round (l. to Cilic). He has a 4-2 record on the season. Sela, 23, became the first Israeli to reach an ATP World Tour final since Harel Levy (2001 Nottingham) at Beijing last year, when he beat Ferrer in the second round.

Seventh seed Kristof Vliegen, a former World No. 30, won 50 of 57 service points to defeat British qualifier Ross Hutchins 7-6(3), 6-4 in just over 90 minutes. Vliegen, who hit eight aces and converted one of three break points opportunities, improved to 2-2 on the 2009 ATP World Tour season. He made a second exit at Doha (l. to Kohlschreiber) in the first week of the year. 

Czech Ivo Minar upset Johannesburg resident Kevin Anderson, who reached his maiden ATP World Tour final at Las Vegas (l. to Querrey) last year, with a hard-fought 7-6(4), 6-4 win in 85 minutes. World No. 93 Minar hit eight aces and won 32 of 39 points on first serve to bounce back from an Australian Open first-round exit (l. to Wawrinka).

Other first round winners on a rain-interrupted Tuesday at the Montecasino in the north of Johannesburg, included Portuguese Frederico Gil, Swiss qualifier Marco Chiudinelli and Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin.

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© Arnaud Briand

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