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Wednesday September 26, 2012
By KNG ZHENG GUAN
KUALA LUMPUR: Experienced Frenchman Julien Benneteau survived a first set scare before booking his spot in the second round of the Malaysian Open ATP250 at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
The seventh seed won 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 against clay court specialist Carlos Berlocq of Argentina to avoid suffering the same fate as eighth seed Jurgen Melzer a day earlier.
On Monday, Austria’s Melzer became the first seeded player to be bundled out after retiring with a left thigh injury against unknown Canadian player Vasek Pospisil.
Melzer was trailing 4-6, 0-2 when he injured his thigh.
World No. 34 Benneteau blew a 4-1 lead in the first set to allow Berlocq to storm back and level it at 6-6.
But Benneteau, who has never won an ATP title in his 12 years as a pro, regained his composure to see off the set before cruising to victory in the second set.
“I knew Carlos was a good player and I tried to be more aggressive to counter the threat,” said Benneteau.
“But I made some mistakes in my serve after a few games and he came back strongly.
“Still, I’m happy that I managed to close off the tiebreaker well. I’m now trying to perform better and hopefully win my first ATP title.”
The Frenchman faces Australian Matthew Ebden for a place in the quarter-finals. Ebden was too strong for Russian wildcard Phillip Davydenko, the nephew of Nikolay, and won 6-0, 7-6 (7-3).
In other matches, left-handed Spaniard Albert Ramos stamped his class over Austrian qualifier Julian Knowle, winning 6-1, 6-4.
In the doubles event, veteran Si Yew Ming’s fourth Malaysian Open adventure came to an end after he and Taiwan’s Jimmy Wang were easily beaten by Alexander Peya-Bruno Soares 6-2, 6-2.
“The performance was all right, but we lacked communication. But I’m glad to end my campaign this year with a win,” said the 33-year-old Yew Ming, who scored a win over compatriot Colin Wong in the singles first qualifying round.
Malaysia’s last remaining representatives in the tournament are the young pair of Mohd Assri Merzuki-Syed Agil Naguib but they are up against top seeds Mariusz Frystenberg-Marcin Matkowski of Poland today.
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