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Amritraj, Dent Eye Return To Final

Newport, U.S.A.

Taylor Dent© Mike Baz/ITHOFTaylor Dent won the Newport title in 2002.

Indian wild card Prakash Amritraj returned to the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships with the hopes of repeating last year’s Cinderella run, and got off to a confident start Monday as he defeated Thailand’s Danai Udomchoke 6-1, 6-4 to reach the second round at the grass-court ATP World Tour 250 tennis tournament in Newport.

The 25-year-old Amritraj, currently five spots back of his career-high ranking of No. 145, saved all three break points faced on serve while converting on three of his five opportunities to clinch the win in 62 minutes. He next faces the winner between third-seeded American Sam Querrey and Spaniard Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo.

In addition to last year’s runner-up finish (l. to Santoro), Amritraj reached the quarter-finals as a qualifier in 2007 (l. to Mahut). His dad, Vijay Amritraj, won three titles on the lawns at the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

American Taylor Dent also enjoyed an impressive first-round win, taking just 49 minutes to dismiss Brazilian Marcos Daniel 6-2, 6-1. The 28-year-old California native made history in 2002 at Newport, as he and father Phil became the first father-son duo to capture ATP titles in the Open Era.

The California native has moved up more than 600 rankings spots over the past six months to his current position of No. 235. Following back surgery in 2006, Dent had struggled to find the form that made him a Top 25 player, but this past season he qualified into ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami and posted quality wins over Spaniard Nicolas Almagro and Tommy Robredo before falling to Roger Federer in the third round.

Coming off his best Grand Slam showing, American Jesse Levine continued his fine form on grass with a 7-6(2), 7-6(2) win over Australian Chris Guccione. Levine had qualified into Wimbledon and reached the third round, en route posting a first-round upset over former World No. 1 Marat Safin.

Another American, 23-year-old Brendan Evans, earned just his third win at the tour-level (3-10) after knocking out No. 4 seed and recent ‘s-Hertogenbosch champion Benjamin Becker of Germany 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-5 in one hour and 53 minutes. Evans, who won the grass-court ATP Challenger Tour title last month at Nottingham, goes on to face compatriot Robby Ginepri, a 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 winner over Spaniard Santiago Ventura.

Vincent Spadea failed to complete the perfect showing for home country players on Day 1 in Newport, as he fell to Gemran Daniel Brands 6-0, 6-4.

In doubles action, fourth seeds Eric Butorac and Scott Lipsky advanced with a 7-6(1), 6-2 win over Kevin Kim and Danai Udomchoke, while Frenchman Nicolas Mahut and Fabrice Santoro defeated James Cerretani and Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-4, 6-4.

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© Ben Solomon

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