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Raonic Sets Federer Clash; Verdasco, Cilic, Monfils Win Openers

Madrid, Spain

Monfils© Getty ImagesGael Monfils edged out last week's Munich champion in his first match since March.

World No. 23 Milos Raonic set an intriguing second-round clash with third seed Roger Federer at the Mutua Madrid Open after defeating David Nalbandian of Argentina 6-4, 6-4 on Tuesday. Raonic fired 16 aces and won 87 per cent of points on serve for victory in 75 minues.

The Canadian is coming off an impressive week in Barcelona, where he defeated World No. 4 Andy Murray en route to the semi-finals, and will look to avenge the defeat he suffered to Federer in the Indian Wells third round.

The 21-year-old Raonic has continued his rise up the South African Airways ATP Rankings in 2012, winning two ATP World Tour titles in Chennai (d. Tipsarevic) and San Jose (d. Istomin). He has a 22-5 match record.

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Spanish No. 15 seed Fernando Verdasco reached the second round as he defeated Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 7-5, 6-2. The Madrid native was a quarter-finalist at this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournament in 2009 (l. to Nadal). The 28-year-old Verdasco has enjoyed strong clay-court results this season, reaching the final in Acapulco (l. to Ferrer) and the semi-finals in Barcelona (l. to Nadal). He improved to a 16-9 match record.

"It is really special for me to play in Madrid; it's my city," said Verdasco. "Of course to play in front of my family and friends is always really nice and I always try to do my best and try to control the feelings and emotions you have when you play here. So for me, it’s really big and important, and today I think I played really well and I'm happy that I beat a player like Istomin."

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Last week’s Munich runner-up Marin Cilic set up a second-round clash with eighth-seeded American John Isner as he defeated Spanish wild card Albert Montanes 6-3, 6-3 in 78 minutes. Cilic saved all seven break points he faced and broke serve three times.

Cilic's victor in the BMW Open final, Philipp Kohlschreiber, did not fare so well. The German was beaten 7-5, 6-7(2), 6-3 by 12th-seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils, who reeled off 12 points in a row at the end to claim victory. Monfils was contesting his first match since the Sony Open Tennis in March.

Fresh from winning the Belgrade title last week, Italy’s Andreas Seppi continued his good form with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over France’s Michael Llodra. The No. 32-ranked Seppi improved to a 14-12 match record and goes onto challenge Alexandr Dolgopolov. The 16th-seeded Ukrainian overcame Spain’s Pablo Andujar 7-6(5), 6-4 in one hour and 39 minutes.

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