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Wawrinka, Nadal make winning clay starts, Berdych slumps

Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka in action against Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber at the Monte Carlo Masters on April 13, 2016
AFP

Monte Carlo (Principality of Monaco) (AFP) – Clay aces Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal started their spring seasons in enviable form on Wednesday by booking spots in the third round of the Monte Carlo Masters.

Reigning Roland Garros champion Wawrinka notched up a 7-6 (7/2), 7-5 victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Nadal, seeded fifth, emerged a 6-3, 6-3 winner over Briton Aljaz Bedene as the Spaniard tries to recover the form that saw him dominate clay for most of a decade.

But Bosnian Damir Dzumhur pulled off a major upset with his defeat of Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-7 (1/7), 6-3. It marked only the second career win over a world top 10 opponent for the 99th-ranked underdog.

World number four Wawrinka, who beat compatriot Roger Federer in the final to win the 2014 title at the Monte Carlo Country Club, will line up in the third round against French 15th seed Gilles Simon.

“He’s a really tough player,” Wawrinka said of Simon. “It’s going to be a good test for me to see where is my level. I will have to play already a really good match if I want to beat him.”

Wawrinka is attempting to build momentum on clay this spring as his May return date to Roland Garros looms.

Breaks were exchanged at the start of the match before Wawrinka ultimately took the first set in a tie-break.

The Swiss squandered a 3-1 lead in the second set but broke Kohlschreiber again in the 11th game before sealing victory in one hour and 37 minutes.

“It was a good first match on clay. It’s never easy to find the rhythm and to play the perfect match. In general, I’m quite happy with the level already,” Wawrinka said.

Elsewhere, French 16th seed Benoit Paire defeated Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-4, 6-3 to reach the third round at his second consecutive Masters event after Miami last month.

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