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Berdych Saves Match Points In Opener; Troicki, Mayer Advance

Halle, Germany

Raonic© PMK/Manfred Kettner'World No. 28 Milos Raonic dropped three points on first serve Tuesday.

World No. 7 Tomas Berdych saved three match points en route to a 5-7, 7-6(8), 6-4 comeback win over 169th-ranked Belgian qualifier Ruben Bemelmans in first-round action Tuesday at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle.

After denying Bemelmans his three opportunities to clinch his first Top 10 victory in the second set tie-break, Berdych secured his only break of the match to start the third set. The No. 2 seed proceeded to win 20 of his 22 service points in the decisive set, including all 18 behind his first serve.

“I was feeling quite good on the court,” said Berdych. “I was really trying to do it until the last ball, not give him a single point because I know how tough it is to close the match.”

Berdych had come to Halle looking to rebound from a first-round exit at Roland Garros, where he had fallen to 140th-ranked Frenchman Stephane Robert in a 9-7 fifth set – his only loss this season to a player ranked outside the Top 50 of the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings.

The Czech reached the final on his first two appearances at this ATP World Tour 250 tournament, finishing runner-up to Roger Federer in 2006 before winning the title the following year (d. Baghdatis).

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Third seed Gael Monfils was untroubled in his Halle debut, serving 14 aces and breaking fellow Frenchman Florent Serra three times to record a 6-4, 6-3 win in 56 minutes. Monfils entered the week at a career-high No. 8 ranking following his quarter-final showing at Roland Garros (l. to Federer).

World No. 12 Viktor Troicki also made a winning start to his grass-court campaign this season. The fifth-seeded Serbian dropped eight points on serve to defeat wild card Mischa Zverev of Germany 6-2, 6-3 in just 53 minutes.

Sixth seed Florian Mayer, who is hoping to reach a second ATP World Tour final on German soil this year, withstood 20 aces from the racquet of Dustin Brown for a 7-6(6), 2-6, 6-3 win in 80 minutes. Mayer reached the BMW Open final at Munich (l. to Davydenko) last month.

"Winning was the only important thing, I knew it wouldn't be easy to win against him," said Mayer. He didn't give me any opportunities up until the third set. I got close a few time [on] his serves, but then he nearly always got the first ball in. I really have to admire his serves, he played really well."

Eighth seed Milos Raonic fired 12 aces past Pablo Andujar of Spain in a 6-3, 6-1 win in 67 minutes. Raonic converted four of seven break point opportunities and improved to a 24-11 match record on the season.

Last year's semi-finalist Philipp Petzschner beat fellow German and lucky loser Dominik Meffert 6-2, 7-6(5) in 79 minutes. He won 78 per cent of service points, including seven aces for his 15th win of the year.

"I played very well in the first set, I started well," said Petzschner. "I had a stupid break in the second set. I served for the game and hit a volley and he took [it]. But otherwise it was good. I'm satisfied."

Former World No. 2 Tommy Haas, playing his first tournament on German soil since winning the Halle title in 2009 (d. Djokovic), lost to Italian Andreas Seppi 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-3 after two hours and six minutes.

“I was pretty pleased with the way it was going with the crowd behind my back,” reflected the 33 year old, who made his return to the singles court at Roland Garros following a 14-month injury layoff. “I saved the match point, won the set and then had a break point myself for 2-0 in the third, but then forcing, wanting it too much. I played one poor service game and that was the match.”

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