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Monfils, Berdych earn wins at Rogers Cup

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TORONTO — Gael Monfils of France defeated Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-3, 6-3 and fifth seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic beat Croatia’s Borna Coric 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 at the Rogers Cup on Tuesday.

Despite dropping his first set, Berdych said that he wasn’t concerned because it was an early break.

“I mean it was by my mistakes and then it was just basically trying to get used to the conditions because they were quite different,” the world No. 8 said.

“I was just really trying to be patient with myself. Trying also to look for the opportunities. And that’s what paid off.”

Tournament No. 2 seed Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland faced Russian Mikhail Youzhny in the late Tuesday match.

Taiwan’s Yen-Hsun Lu admits he’s a bit nervous about facing hometown star Milos Raonic on Wednesday, but he’s banking on the fourth-seeded Canadian having a few butterflies too.

Lu, who advanced to the second round on Tuesday with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Alexander Zverev of Germany, will have few backers among the expected capacity crowd at the 12,500-seat Aviva Centre.

“All the spectators against you is very tough,” Lu said. “But, I mean, this is what he should get because he comes from the country and he’s one of the best players right now.”

Later Tuesday, Canada’s Vasek Pospisil defeated Jeremy Chardy in first-round action after the Frenchman retired with a right foot injury.

Chardy started to favor his foot after Pospisil went up 30-0 in the first game of the second set. Chardy called for the trainer and waited several minutes before deciding that he couldn’t go on.

Pospisil won the first set 7-6 (3). The Vancouver product will face Monfils in the second round.

Raonic, who grew up in the Toronto suburb of Thornhill, will be playing his first match since the Wimbledon men’s final where he lost to Andy Murray.

Lu says that in order to beat the Canadian, he will have to have a strong service game, but he’s also hoping to exploit any nerves that Raonic may have as he returns home.

“If I can try to make more balls into the court to play, I have a little bit better chance,” he said. “I have to focus on my service game to stay with him and to maybe give him a little bit of pressure and waiting for him maybe a little bit getting nervous from the tensions and give me a chance.”

Raonic, who had a bye in the first round of the Rogers Cup, is 2-0 against the 32-year-old Lu, with his last victory coming in 2014 in Monte Carlo. Lu said he’s noticed a lot of improvement in Raonic’s game recently.

“He getting more stable from the baseline,” Lu said. “He plays all different kind of game. He can come in, he’s making (things) difficult.”

In men’s doubles action, Vancouver’s Philip Bester and Adil Shamasdin of Toronto got past world No. 1 singles player Novak Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia 7-5, 4-6, 10-2.

Tied at 30-30 in the second set, Bester double-faulted to give the Serbs break point before double faulting again to give Djokovic and Zimonjic the set.

“I wanted to keep things interesting for the crowd,” Bester joked. “That’s just sport, that’s tennis, that kind of stuff happens to me, it happens to everybody and as soon as we went to the change-over, the most important thing for me personally was to have a short memory about it and also to communicate with Adil that I was ready to move on to the tiebreaker.”

Bester and Shamasdin will next play South Africa’s Raven Klaasen and American Rajeev Ram.

Lu, ranked 70th in the world, improved to 3-3 on the ATP World Tour circuit this season with his victory over Zverev. He made headlines at Wimbledon in 2010 when he beat American Andy Roddick in an epic five-set thriller.

The Taiwanese player was ousted in the first round of the Rogers Cup last year by Pospisil.

After right elbow surgery delayed the start of his season, he’s gone on to lose to Djokovic in the first round of Roland Garros and Murray in the second round of Wimbledon.

Lu says he’ll have to stop Raonic’s weapon – his serve – if he’s going to be successful on center court against the world No. 7.

“He’s one of the best players right now,” Lu said. “For me, I really need to stay very strong in my serve and hope I can always catch him and give him some pressure.”

Petra Kvitova to play at French Open

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PARIS —¬†Only two months after picking up her racket for the first time following a knife attack at her home, Petra Kvitova will be playing at the French Open.

The two-time Wimbledon champion said Friday she will make her comeback at Roland Garros, although she still lacks power and strength.

“I knew this day would come,” said Kvitova, who was attacked by an intruder last year. “I’m really happy that really here, the dream comes true.”

Kvitova has missed all season while recovering from surgery on her racket-holding left hand. She sustained damage to the tendons in her left hand, along with injuries to all five fingers and two nerves, during the attack.

Doctors initially thought she would need more time before returning to tennis. But Kvitova’s recovery was faster than expected and she said last month that she was signing up for the French Open, which begins Sunday, in hopes of being able to compete.

“It wasn’t easy, but I’m happy that I work through this and I can play tennis and I can be in the draw,” she said.

Kvitova, who won the Wimbledon title in 2011 and 2014 and climbed as high as No. 2 in the WTA rankings, was not allowed to speak about the attack itself because a police investigation is still ongoing. However, she spoke about the anxiety associated with her dreadful experience.

“I didn’t sleep well the days after, but I wasn’t really staying alone,” she said. “From the beginning I was really feeling really weird when I went in the city or somewhere. I was always staring to the guys and looking if there are no strangers there. But with the time, it’s better.”

Kvitova also provided details on the intense rehabilitation process that preceded her “last-minute” decision to try her luck in Paris.

“I worked very hard behind the scenes,” she said. “From the beginning I had this hand in a splint for two months, and even then I was practicing every day, always putting the splint away and trying to make this scar softer. So from the second day after surgery I started to work with that, which was kind of easy, just passive work with the fingers. I couldn’t move them.”

Kvitova got rid of the splint after two weeks and started to move her fingers slightly. She said she can’t still move them completely.

Kvitova also consulted with a hand specialist in the French city of Grenoble every month and she started practicing with a racket at the end of March.

“I hit a few forehands with soft balls from the net, and it felt very, very weird,” she said. “I didn’t really have touch in the hand for holding the racket. I’m happy that I didn’t have to change any techniques or something. Everything seems OK. Of course the hand doesn’t have that power and the strength yet, but I’m working on it. Hopefully one day will be everything perfect.”

Kvitova will open her campaign on the red clay against 86th-ranked Julia Boserup. She is making her ninth appearance at Roland Garros, where she reached the semifinals in 2012.

“Not many people believe that I can play tennis again. So I’m happy that I can play,” Kvitova said. “I actually already won my biggest fight. I stayed in life and I have all my fingers.”

Nishikori saves three match points in Geneva Open QF win

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GENEVA — Kei Nishikori saved three straight match points in the deciding set before outlasting Kevin Anderson 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6) in the Geneva Open quarterfinals on Thursday.

The second-seeded Nishikori was serving at 4-5, 0-40 before rallying to beat the 62nd-ranked South African, who fired 14 aces without allowing any by his opponent.

Nishikori also trailed in the tiebreaker before creating a second match-point chance with a forehand crosscourt service return for a winner. He clinched with a forehand winner off a looping net-cord ball.

The No. 9-ranked Japanese player will face 33rd-ranked Mischa Zverev of Germany in the semifinals on Friday.

The Russian-born Zverev, who came through qualifying, beat fifth-seeded Steve Johnson of the United States 6-4, 7-5.