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Del Potro, Bellucci Lead South American Charge

Estoril, Portugal

Bellucci© JLSThomaz Bellucci made a winning start on his Estoril Open debut.

Former World No. 4 Juan Martin del Potro led a South American charge into the Estoril Open second round on Tuesday.

Del Potro, making his clay-court season debut at the Estoril Open, worked hard for a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 win over Portuguese qualifier Pedro Sousa.

The 22-year-old del Potro improved to a 21-6 match record on the season after he won 65 per cent of service points, including four aces. World No. 488 Sousa, 22, still searching for his first ATP World Tour win, dropped nine points on serve in winning the second set.

Del Potro has returned strongly this season from a right wrist injury, rising from No. 484 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings on 7 February to his currently position of World No. 46.

Sixth seed Thomaz Bellucci remained solid on serve throughout his 7-5, 6-1 win over Danish qualifier Frederik Nielsen. The Brazilian won 71 per cent of service points and hit four aces.

Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas improved to 3-0 lifetime versus Pere Riba when the Uruguayan won 82 per cent of service points in a 6-2, 6-4 victory over 69 minutes. He will next meet third seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round.

Argentinean Carlos Berlocq required 77 minutes to knock out Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-4, 6-3 for a meeting with fourth seed Gilles Simon, while Colombian Alejandro Falla was leading Pablo Andujar 4-6, 6-1, 4-4 when his Spanish opponent retired with a lower back injury.

Frederico Gil, who grew up playing at the Estadio Nacional, delighted local support by beating qualifier Flavio Cipolla 6-3, 6-2 in 87 minutes. Last year, Gil became the first Portuguese ATP World Tour finalist in history.

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