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Youzhny Upsets Tsonga; Pospisil, Benneteau Save Match Points

Cincinnati, U.S.A.

Pospisil© Western & Southern OpenVasek Pospisil saved three match points to beat Radek Stepanek.

World No. 25 Mikhail Youzhny brought Jo-Wilfried Tsonga back down to earth on Tuesday at the Western & Southern Open, beating last week’s Toronto champion 6-1, 6-4 in the Cincinnati first round.

The Russian notched his 12th win of the season as Tsonga struggled on serve, only winning seven of his 23 second serve points and being broken four times. Youzhny has won four of his past five meetings with Tsonga and is making his 12th appearance in Cincinnati. He will next face Italian Andreas Seppi, who rallied past Colombian Santiago Giraldo 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.

Tsonga was coming off his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 triumph in Toronto, where he beat Roger Federer in the final. The Frenchman dropped to a 30-14 match record on the season.

"It's never easy," said Tsonga. "You have to get used to the conditions really quick... I just gave everything on court, but I didn't have enough today to compete at the good level."

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World No. 19 Marin Cilic began his Cincinnati campaign with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over the in-form Feliciano Lopez. The Croatian won 76 per cent of his service points and converted two of his four break point chances for victory in 67 minutes.

Lopez was coming off a semi-final showing at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, where he had toppled Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic before falling to Federer. The run saw him re-enter the Top 20 of the Emirates ATP Rankings at No. 16.

The 25-year-old Cilic goes on to face Fernando Verdasco, with whom he is level at 4-4 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

Vasek Pospisil saved three match points as he edged Radek Stepanek 5-7, 6-1, 7-6(4) in two hours and 19 minutes. Serving at 5-6 in the decider, Pospisil squandered a 40/0 lead and fended off three match points before prevailing in the tie-break.

“I was up 40/0 in that game and started thinking about the tie-break a little bit. I got lucky. I’m having a great summer and enjoying it. I had a pulled muscle [last week in Toronto], but it’s all good now. I’m not feeling any pain.”

The 24-year-old Pospisil goes on to face second seed Roger Federer, whom he lost a tight three-set contest to in the Basel semi-finals last year.

Frenchman Julien Benneteau also saved a match point, down 5-6 in the third-set tie-break, prevailing against lucky loser Blaz Rola 6-7(7), 6-3, 7-6(7) after two hours and 38 minutes. 

Benneteau will next meet British qualifier James Ward, who claimed his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000-level win as he held on for a 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 win over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in one hour and 41 minutes.

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