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Former runner-up Tomas Berdych progresses in Monte Carlo

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MONTE CARLO, Monaco —¬†Tomas Berdych needed two hours and three sets to overcome strong resistance from Russian qualifier Andrey Kuznetsov and reach the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Monday.

Berdych, a runner-up at the Country Club two years ago, converted only two of his 11 break points and rallied Kuznetsov 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Berdych made the decisive break in the third game of the decider with a backhand winner down the line.

All six seeded players in action at the first big clay-court event of the season progressed to the second round: No. 12 Robert Bautista Agut, No. 13 Pablo Carreno Busta, No. 14 Alexander Zverev, No. 15 Albert Ramos-Vinolas, and No. 16 Pablo Cuevas.

Widely regarded as one of the most promising youngsters on the tour, the 19-year-old Zverev secured a convincing 6-1, 6-2 win over Italian veteran Andreas Seppi.

“I like playing on clay,” Zverev said. “It’s the surface I grew up on.”

Zverev will next be up against either Feliciano Lopez or Daniil Medvedev.

Novak Djokovic, who has been drawn in the same half of the draw as nine-time champion Rafael Nadal, will start his campaign on Tuesday against Gilles Simon of France. Djokovic has been struggling with injuries and recently withdrew from the Miami Masters with a right elbow complaint.

“The elbow is fine now,” Djokovic said. “I’ve been training for the past couple of weeks, playing Davis Cup, and making the transition to clay that’s very demanding for the body. I was skeptical of how my elbow would react to the heavy balls on clay, but it’s been good so far.”

Dimitrov, Keys reach Western & Southern Open’s 3rd round

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MASON, Ohio (AP) Seventh-seeded Gregor Dimitrov defeated Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (5), 6-4 on Wednesday to reach the Western & Southern Open’s round of 16.

Sixteenth-seeded Madison Keys easily reached the women’s round of 16 in Cincinnati for the first time on her fourth try, needing just 50 minutes to zoom past Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-1. Keys, a right-hander who withdrew from last week’s Rogers Cup in Toronto with a left forearm injury, next will meet fourth-seeded Garbine Muguruza, the Wimbledon champion.

“I definitely thought I played really well,” Keys said. “I don’t know if I was the zone, press, but everything was going well. It was falling into place, and I didn’t have to rush anything.”

Keys was happiest about finishing quickly in the humid, 80-some-degree conditions.

“I definitely didn’t want to be out there a long time,” she said. “I wasn’t out there that long, but I was still drenched. I was happy to get back inside into the air conditioning.”

After being forced to a tiebreak in the first set, Dimitrov raised his level of play in the second with 13 winners to Lopez’s four. Dimitrov finished with 28 winners, twice as many as Lopez.

Other seeded women reaching the third round in this U.S. Open warmup were eighth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Yulia Putintseva, and Anastasija Sevastova, with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Roberta Vinci. Qualifier Camila Giorgi advanced with a 7-6 (1), 5-7, 6-3 win over Daria Gavrilova.

Men reaching the third round on the third full day of play included David Ferrer, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-1 over Janko Tipsarevic, and Yuichi Sugita, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1 over qualifier Joao Sousa.

Del Potro upsets Berdych in first round in Cincinnati

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MASON, Ohio — Juan Martin del Potro advanced to the second round of the Western & Southern Open with a 3-6, 7-6 (1), 6-0 upset of 10th-seeded Tomas Berdych on Tuesday.

The 30th-ranked del Potro shook off a first-set loss, jumping out to a 4-1 lead in the second set before settling for a win in the tiebreak, which he led 5-0 and clinched with an ace. He built on his momentum by rolling through the third set against the Wimbledon semifinalist, improving to 12-0 in first-round matches this season.

Berdych was playing his first match since withdrawing from last week’s Rogers Cup in Montreal with a rib injury.

Ninth-seeded David Goffin became the first seeded man to be knocked out in Cincinnati, falling to Nick Kyrgios, 6-2, 6-3 in a first-round match. Kyrgios will meet qualifier Alexandr Dolgopolov in the second round after Dolgopolov defeated Kevin Anderson 6-4, 7-6 (6).

In women’s first-round action, Karen Khachanov beat Diego Schwartzman 6-1, 1-6, 6-3, and Ashleigh Barty beat Varvara Lepchenko, 6-4, 6-4 in a matchup of two qualifiers.