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Federer/Mahut Enjoy Doubles Success; Hewitt Advances

Brisbane, Australia

Ebden© Getty ImagesMatt Ebden will play Kei Nishikori in the second round.

Debuting a larger racquet head, Roger Federer enjoyed success on the doubles court on Tuesday at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp. The Swiss teamed with Nicolas Mahut for a 7-5, 7-6(5) victory over top seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau.

Federer practised with the new frame in Dubai during the off-season and is using it in competition for the first time as he makes his debut in Brisbane. He will open his singles campaign on Wednesday night against Jarkko Nieminen

Mahut, a winner of two grass-court titles in 2013, claimed his second win of the day, having earlier rallied past Dutchman Igor Sijsling 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 47 minutes. He goes on to face eighth seed Jeremy Chardy, who won an all-French clash with Adrian Mannarino 7-6(4), 7-5. 

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In an all-Australian match-up, former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt defeated 17-year-old qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-3, 7-5. Hewitt trailed 3-5 in the second set, but fought back to beat his No. 628-ranked countryman in one hour and 41 minutes. Kokkinakis was contesting his first tour-level match.

"It was good. I'll only get better from now," said Hewitt. "It was just an awkward situation really to play him, and something that I just had to hang tough and make him play a lot of balls out there. In the end, I think my experience sort of told."

The 32-year-old Hewitt is starting his 17th season on the ATP World Tour. This week, the Adelaide native, runner-up at the 2005 Australian Open (l. to Safin), is chasing his 29th tour-level title. He next faces sixth-seeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, who dismissed Mikhail Kukushkin 6-4, 6-4.

Australia’s Matt Ebden set up a second-round meeting with No. 2 seed Kei Nishikori after defeating American lucky loser Alex Kuznetsov 6-3, 6-4. Ebden has an 0-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Asia’s top player, including a five-sets loss two years ago in Melbourne.

“Played him a couple times, couple interesting matches,” he said. “Last time was at Wimbledon about six months ago. He came out playing unbelievable. I didn’t have much time on the ball at all. He really came out going for it. I’m expecting a very tough match. Just looking forward to playing another match in front of the Brisbane crowd.”

Ebden, who hails from Perth, is making his fifth appearance in Brisbane and reached the quarter-finals two years ago as a qualifier (l. to Soderling). Kuznetsov had stepped in as a replacement for 2013 Australian Open junior champion Nick Kyrgios, who withdrew with a shoulder injury.

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