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Tsonga Edges Monfils; Almagro Passes Early Test In Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan

Almagro© AFP/Getty ImagesSixth seed Nicolas Almagro celebrates beating Benjamin Becker on Monday.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga got the better of his good friend, Gael Monfils, for the fourth time in five FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings on Monday at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships.

Second seed Tsonga, the 2009 titlist, did not face a break point in a 6-3, 7-6(8) victory over 2010 runner-up Monfils in just over 90 minutes.

Tsonga is currently in 10th position in the Emirates ATP Race To London, with five spots left up for grabs at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in November. He has a 34-12 match record on the season, including a recent title success at the Open 13 (d. Berdych).

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Sixth seed Nicolas Almagro made amends for last year’s first-round exit by beating qualifier Benjamin Becker 7-6(4), 7-6(3).

Almagro, who is currently 14th in the Emirates ATP Race To London, lost just eight points on serve and struck 11 aces to triumph in 88 minutes. He improved to a 33-19 match record on the season and will wait on the winner of Horacio Zeballos or qualifier Ryan Harrison.

Alexandr Dolgopolov got his tournament debut off to a strong start when he hit eight aces past Daniel Brands in a 6-3, 6-1 win. He will next play eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic or Victor Hanescu.

In the final match of the day, under floodlights, Jarkko Nieminen broke a two-match losing streak against Juan Monaco with a 7-6(4), 6-1 win. Monaco had won their Power Horse Cup final meeting in May. Nieminen goes on to face sixth seed Gilles Simon or Marcel Granollers.

Finals Contenders Dodig/Melo Oust Japanese Hopes
Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo continued to press their claims for a spot at The O2 in London, when the third seeds reached the quarter-finals with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Japanese hopes Kei Nishikori and Yasutaka Uchiyama. Meanwhile, Treat Huey and Dominic Inglot, who have a 1-2 record in ATP World Tour finals this year, overcame a slow start to beat Kevin Anderson and Paul Hanley 2-6, 7-5, 10-4.

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© Hiroshi Sato

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