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Del Potro, Berdych Make Strong Starts

Rome, Italy

del Potro© Getty ImagesJuan Martin del Potro is hoping to ignite his clay-court season this week.

World No. 7 Juan Martin del Potro made a strong start to his Internazionali BNL d’Italia campaign on Tuesday, defeating Russian qualifier Andrey Kuznetsov 6-3, 6-2 in 75 minutes. The Argentine is looking to ignite his clay-court season this week, after a third-round exit at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters last month.

The 24-year-old del Potro claimed his 18th win of the season, highlighted by winning the Rotterdam title (d. Benneteau) and finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. He is looking to advance past the quarter-finals at the Foro Italico for the first time in five visits.

South Africa’s Kevin Anderson avenged the defeat he suffered to Marin Cilic in Monte-Carlo, beating the 11th-seeded Croat 6-3, 7-6(7) to reach the third round. The World No. 27 is enjoying a career-best season, including finals in Sydney (l. to Tomic) and Casablanca (l. to Robredo), and will look to reach the quarter-finals in Rome for the first time.

If he is to do so, Anderson will have to overturn a 0-7 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against sixth seed Tomas Berdych. The two met last week at the Mutua Madrid Open, with Berdych winning in two tight sets.

Berdych was a 6-4, 6-0 winner over Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin. The Czech is coming off a semi-final showing in Madrid (l. to Wawrinka) and improved to a 27-9 match record on the season. He is searching for his first ATP World Tour title of the season after runner-up efforts in Marseille (l. to Tsonga) and Dubai (l. to Djokovic).

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Marrero/Verdasco Set Clay-Court Rematch
Spaniards David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco will have a chance to avenge last week’s loss to Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares in the Madrid semi-finals, setting a rematch with the Austrian-Brazilian pairing after defeating Jeremy Chardy and Treat Huey 6-3, 7-6(4) in their first round match at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

Italian wild cards Flavio Cipolla and Filippo Volandri opened with a 6-3, 4-6, 10-6 win over Fabio Fognini and Martin Klizan, and will next face No. 3 seeds Robert Lindstedt and Daniel Nestor.

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