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Cilic, Simon, Raonic Feature In First-Round Action Monday

Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Cilic© Getty ImagesNinth seed Marin Cilic plays Horacio Zeballos in the final match on Court Central Monday.


• First round play continues on Monday at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters with 22-year-old Milos Raonic, 23-year-old Benoit Paire and 24-year-old Marin Cilic in action on Court Central. All together there are 10 first round matches on the schedule.

• In the opening match, a first- time ATP World Tour meeting takes place between Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Benoit Paire of France. Dodig comes in with a 9-9 record on the year, highlighted by reaching the quarter-finals at Zagreb and Delray Beach. He also reached the third round of an ATP Masters 1000 event for the second time in his career at Indian Wells (l. to Federer). He is playing here for the third time with a 1-2 record. Paire comes in with a 10-10 (1-2 on clay) record, highlighted by reaching his second career ATP World Tour final in Montpellier (l. to Gasquet) in February. Like Dodig he also reached the third round at Indian Wells (l. to Simon), his best result in an ATP Masters 1000 event. He is playing here in the main draw for the first time after failing to qualify in 2011 (l. to Rochus).

• In the second match, French No. 11 seed Gilles Simon brings a 2-0 head-to-head record against Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut. The former World No. 6 Simon comes in with a 16-9 record (0-2 on clay). Both clay court losses came in the Davis Cup quarter-finals last weekend to Argentina (l. to Monaco and Berlocq).  At No. 13 on the Emirates ATP Rankings, he is one of three Frenchmen ranked in the Top 15. He is playing here for the seventh time (8-6 record) and his best result was the semi-finals last year (d. Tipsarevic in 4R, Tsonga in QF, l to Nadal). The 25-year-old Bautista Agut , who reached his first ATP World Tour final in Chennai, is looking for his first ATP Masters 1000 win of the year. He fell in the first round at Miami and Indian Wells. He is making his tournament debut.

• In the third match, No. 12 seed Milos Raonic of Canada faces Julien Benneteau of France for the third time (tied 1-1). The 22-year-old Raonic is one of seven players under the age of 24 to rank in Top 50 Emirates ATP Rankings at No. 15. He is joined by No. 16 Nishikori (23), No. 24 Janowicz (22), No. 28 Klizan (23), No. 33 Paire (23), No. 34 Dimitrov (21), and No. 44 Tomic (20). He led Canada to their first Davis Cup semi-final, winning both singles matches against Spain and Italy. The 31-year-old Frenchman comes in with an 11-8 record  and has reached the quarter-finals three times or better this year. At Rotterdam he record his 200th career tour-level win over Federer in quarter-finals en route to his eighth ATP World Tour final (l. to del Potro). This is his 10th appearance in Monte-Carlo (5-9).

• The last match of the day is a second time meeting between No. 9 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina. Cilic, who won the previous meeting on clay in Munich two years ago, is the top Croat with a 15-5 (2-0 on clay) record. In February, he became the first three-time Zagreb titlist. He reached his sixth career ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final in Miami (l. to Murray).. Zeballos, is one of seven Argentineans in the Top 100 and he earned the biggest win of his career as he defeated No. 5 Rafael Nadal in the final at Vina del Mar in February The title was his first career ATP World Tour title and he joined Djokovic  and Federer (twice each) as the only players to defeat Nadal in a clay court final. Zeballos is making his second appearance in Monte-Carlo (1st Rd. in 2010).

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