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Monfils Beats Blake In Houston, Faces Almagro Next

Houston, U.S.A.

Monfils© Aaron M. Sprecher/ROCCGael Monfils is making his first appearance in Houston.

Frenchman Gael Monfils defeated American James Blake 7-6(5), 7-5 in a meeting of two former Top 10 players, Monday evening at the US Men's Clay Court Championship. Monfils rallied from a break down in both sets to knock out Blake, the 2008 Houston finalist, in one hour and 47 minutes.

Monfils will next face top-seeded Spaniard and fellow Houston debutant Nicolas Almagro. Monfils and Almagro have split their previous four meetings, with Almagro winning their last encounter in the 2009 Acapulco final.

American Tim Smyczek cruised through with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Frenchman Josselin Ouanna in 54 minutes, while wild card Rhyne Williams opened first-round action by defeating Argentine Guido Pella 7-5, 7-5. Two other Americans, former World No. 15 Robby Ginepri and 22-year-old Bradley Klahn, secured their places in the main draw with straight-sets wins respectively over Peter Polansky and Luka Gregorc

Ivo Karlovic, the 2007 champion, fell in the final round of qualifying to Gerald Melzer, the younger brother of 2006 finalist Jurgen Melzer.

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