February 5, 2019 / 8:16 PM / 3 months ago

Tennis: Monfils makes impressive start at Sofia Open

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - Australian Open - Second Round - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, January 16, 2019. France's Gael Monfils reacts during the match against Taylor Fritz of the U.S. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

SOFIA (Reuters) - Former world number six Gael Monfils made a fine start to his Sofia Open title bid by beating Serbia’s Viktor Troicki 6-3 6-4 in the first round on the Armeets Arena Center Court on Tuesday.

The Frenchman, who has slipped to 33 in the world rankings after a series of injuries, offered fans plenty of jaw-dropping moments with his trademark acrobatics and baseline winners.

The charismatic 32-year-old, watched by Ukrainian girlfriend Elina Svitolina - seventh in the women’s rankings - eased through the first set after breaking Troicki in the fourth game.

Troicki, who reached the final in 2016, put up more of a fight in the second but Monfils clinched the set with a superb service game to take his perfect record against the Serb to 5–0.

The seventh-seeded Monfils served nine aces to wildcard Troicki’s eight, although the Frenchman also served eight double faults during a match which was over in just under an hour.

“I think my rate of service was not very good,” said Monfils. “I need to serve better if I want to stay in the tournament.”

Next up for Monfils is the winner of the first-round clash between Serbian Laslo Djere and Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin.

Big-serving Daniel Brands stunned Georgian fifth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6(7) 7-5 while fellow German qualifier Yannick Maden beat Adrian Mannarino of France 6-4 7-6(4).

Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Ken Ferris

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