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Monfils Wins On Return; Lopez To Face Roddick Next

Madrid, Spain

Monfils© Getty ImagesGael Monfils is playing in his first clay tournament since last year's Roland Garros.

Frenchman Gael Monfils returned to ATP World Tour action for the first time in two months, and came up with a 6-2, 7-5 win over countryman Stephane Robert on Monday at the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open.

The No. 12 seed, playing in his first clay-court tournament since a quarter-final effort at last year’s Roland Garros (l. to Federer), took advantage of his opportunities – converting on five of his six break points – to defeat the 64th-ranked Robert in one hour and 24 minutes.

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“For me, Madrid is the first tournament since coming back, so my top expectation is to get back in the game and find a rhythm on the court,” said Monfils. “I don’t have any expectations other than to play tough, solid tennis. If I can get some matches under my belt, it will be good for the French.”

Monfils had made a strong start to his 2010 season, reaching the quarter-finals or better in four of his first five tournaments, but had been sidelined since the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells with a hand injury.

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Spaniard Feliciano Lopez began his hometown title campaign with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Poland’s Lukasz Kubot, setting a second-round meeting with fifth-seeded American Andy Roddick. Lopez has lost to Roddick in their six previous meetings, all of which have come on hard courts.

“Playing against someone as good as Roddick is going to be very nice,” said Lopez. “I’ve never played against him on clay, and it’s a new challenge that I’m thrilled about. Hopefully I’ll be able to play as well as I did today and be able to put up a good fight against him.”

World No. 32 Lopez is a three-time Madrid quarter-finalist, but last year fell in the first round on the tournament’s transition from hard to clay courts. He made a strong showing two weeks ago at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay event in Rome, posting an upset win over Croatian Marin Cilic en route to the quarter-finals (l. to Gulbis).

He reflected on his season to date: “I’m pretty happy with how I’m playing this year. I played really well in Rome, and it’s given me the confidence to be ready for an important tournament like this; I’m feeling enthusiastic and ready to play.”

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Argentine Leonardo Mayer earned his second win at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, as he battled past Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-7(9), 7-5, 6-4 in two hours and 41 minutes.

In other matches, Austrian Jurgen Melzer defeated South African qualifier Kevin Anderson 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, and qualifiers Santiago Giraldo and Alexandr Dolgopolov Jr. respectively accounted for German Philipp Kohlschreiber and Italian Andreas Seppi.

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