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Del Potro Passes Monfils Test; Faces Gulbis Next

Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Gulbis© Henk KosterErnests Gulbis ousted home hope Robin Haase in the first round.

Second seed Juan Martin del Potro passed a tricky first-round test at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament on Tuesday, defeating former World No. 7 Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-4 in Rotterdam.

The seventh-ranked del Potro, who finished runner-up to Roger Federer in last year’s final, won 75 per cent of his service points and broke Monfils once in each set to advance in 71 minutes. The two were squaring off for the first time.

"To play Monfils in the first round of the tournament is a tough match,” said del Potro. “But I played really well, very focussed all the time. I closed the match out very strongly and that gives me confidence for my next round. Gael was out of competition for a while and he's trying to get back a good level. I think very soon he will be fighting for the Top 10 again."

Watch Monfils Trick Shot

Video courtesy ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.

Del Potro is playing his second event in 2013. He began his season by reaching the third round at the Australian Open, where he was upset by Jeremy Chardy in five sets. Del Potro is bidding to lift his 14th tour-level trophy this week. The Argentine captured four titles in 2012, with three coming on indoor hard. He plays Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis in the second round.

Gulbis lost just 10 points on serve as he dismissed Robin Haase of The Netherlands 6-2, 6-1. The 24-year-old Gulbis, who has fallen to No. 132 in the Emirates ATP Rankings from a career-high No. 21, claimed his second tour-level win of the season.

France’s Julien Benneteau closed on a landmark 200th tour-level win as he beat lucky loser Tobias Kamke of Germany 6-3, 6-2 in 75 minutes. Kamke had replaced Michael Llodra, who withdrew due to illness. The 31-year-old Benneteau has 198 wins and came into Rotterdam on the back of a strong start to the season, featuring a semi-final showing at the Apia International Sydney (l. to Anderson) and a quarter-final effort last week at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier (l. to Gasquet).

Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen was ruthless in a 6-0, 6-0 dismissal of upcoming Belgian David Goffin. In the one-hour rout, Nieminen benefitted from eight Goffin double faults and broke serve six times from 12 opportunities. It is the second double bagel the 31-year-old Nieminen has recorded in his career; at the Sony Open Tennis in Miami in 2007, the left-hander defeated Evgeny Korolev 6-0, 6-0 in the second round.

"I felt I was controlling the game pretty well, but there were so many tight games and everything seemed to go my way today,” said Nieminen. “He didn't serve well today so I could get many returns back and play rallies. Obviously this doesn't happen too often. I'm already very satisfied that I could beat a good player like Goffin, but to beat him with this score doesn't happen every day.”

It is the second double bagel to happen in the 40 years of this ATP World Tour 500 indoor hard-court tournament. In 1987, Stefan Edberg defeated Andreas Maurer 6-0, 6-0 in the second round and went onto win the tournament.

Local wild card Thiemo de Bakker advanced to the second round at the expense of Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny, who was forced to retire with a hip injury when trailing 3-6, 7-6(2), 4-1.

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