After a six-month layoff with a back injury, former world No. 4 Tomas Berdych made a successful return to the court Monday with a 6-4, 7-6 (5) first-round win against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha.
The one-hour, 42-minute victory by Berdych was the Czech wild card’s first match since June. He will face eighth-seeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the second round.
Verdasco, a 2017 semifinalist in Doha, fired nine aces and won 83 percent of the points on his first serve in a 6-3, 6-4 victory against Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi. Others advancing Monday included No. 5 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia, No. 7 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain, Andrey Rublev of Russia, Chile’s Nicolas Jerry and qualifier Maximilian Marterer of Germany.
Fifth-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada smashed 18 serves and needed just 47 minutes to complete a 6-0, 6-3 victory against Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene in first-round action in Brisbane, Australia. Raonic, who won this event in 2016, lost only four points during the 16-minute opening set.
Sixth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria opened his 2019 season with a 6-3, 6-4 victory against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka. Dmitrov fended off six of seven break points.
Other winners included 19-year-old qualifier Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia, who notched his first ATP victory with a 6-3, 6-1 decision against Argentinian Leonardo Mayer. Australian John Millman outlasted American Tennys Sandgren 7-6 (6), 6-7 (6), 6-0 and Japanese qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama ousted Frenchman Ugo Humbert 6-4, 7-6 (6).
Tata Open Maharashtra
Seventh-seeded Jaume Munar saved nine out of 10 break points and kicked off the new season with a 6-2, 7-6 (4) victory against Moldova’s Radu Albot in Pune, India. The 21-year-old Spaniard trailed 4-2 in the tiebreaker before reeling off five straight points to advance.
Two other seeded Spaniards were not as fortunate, with No. 6 seed Roberto Carballes Baena losing 6-3, 6-4 to Belgium’s Steve Darcis, and No. 8 seed Pablo Andujar dropping a 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (6) slugfest against Russia’s Evgeny Donskoy.
Ernests Gulbis of Latvia and 20-year-old American Michael Mmoh also advanced to the second round.
—Field Level Media