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Santoro and Ivanisevic Win To Open Play In Monterrey

Santoro© Abierto GNP SegurosFabrice Santoro beat Greg Rusedski in the first match of the tournament in Monterrey.

Rain may have spoiled play on Thursday evening, but the stars of the ATP Champions Tour made up for it with thrilling play on Friday as Fabrice Santoro and Goran Ivanisevic won their openers at the Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey, Mexico.

Santoro got things started with a tough victory over Greg Rusedski, 6-4, 6-2 in 76 minutes. The scoreline may suggest that the match was routine for the Frenchman, but it was anything but.

“It was a two-set match, but a tough one. We both played good tennis,” Santoro said. “[It is my] first time in Mexico, first time in Monterrey. The court is very fast. It’s good for us, so we can play aggressive tennis with short points and I’m pretty happy about the way I played tonight.”

Both men had multiple break points in the first set. But while Rusedski could not convert on any of his three chances, Santoro managed to snag one of his four to sneak out the opener, despite winning just three more points than his opponent. 

In the second set, Santoro’s guile was too much for Rusedski, and he did not face another break point.

“My serve and the way I moved on the court. [Those were] the two parts of my game which worked well tonight,” Santoro said, adding that his opponent forced him to bring a high level. “I’ve played Greg many times the last few years and I think this court is perfect for him as it’s fast with a low bounce and his serve moves a lot. It’s probably the best match he’s played against me in the past five years.”

In the second match of the evening, Goran Ivanisevic battled past local wild card Leonardo Lavalle, 6-1, 6-4.

So what was the left-hander happiest about with his performance?

“Everything,” Ivanisevic said. “I hadn’t played a match for a long time but I controlled the ball well and served well as well which obviously helped.”

After struggling to hold in the first set — Lavalle won just one of six second-serve points — the Mexican managed to dig deep and make it tough for the 2001 Wimbledon champion in the second. While Lavalle saved seven of eight break points, that one break of serve was all Ivanisevic needed to earn the victory.

The match may have taken just 51 minutes, but it was plenty entertaining for the fans, who created a great atmosphere for the players.

“It was great. Good crowd, great court – beautiful centre court under the lights,” Ivanisevic said. “[I] really enjoyed it.”

To make up for Thursday’s rain, four singles matches will be played Saturday, set to begin at 5 p.m. using the Fast4 format.

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