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Paes Starts Final Season With Win In Pune

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2020

Paes Starts Final Season With Win In Pune

Top seeds Krawietz/Mahut advance in Montpellier

Leander Paes will wrap up his 29-year ATP Tour career this season, but as he proved on Tuesday at the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune, he won’t be content with a mere nostalgia moment.

The former doubles World No. 1 and eight-time Grand Slam men’s doubles champion, teaming with Matthew Ebden, kicked off his final year with a victory by defeating second seeds Artem Sitak/Divij Sharan 6-2, 7-6(5). Ebden/Paes will play Purav Raja/Ramkumar Ramanathan or Egor Gerasimov/Sumit Nagal in the next round.

”Playing in India, on home soil, is always something special to me,” Paes said. “To motivate the youngsters to be the best they can be is something I’ve strived to do my whole career. I hope we can have a great turnout this week.”

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At the Open Sud de France in Montpellier, top seeds Kevin Krawietz/Nicolas Mahut started their week with a tight 7-6(4), 4-6, 10-4 win against Adrian Mannarino/Hugo Nys. They’ll take on Nikola Cacic/Mate Pavic in the quarter-finals. Ivan Sabanov/Matej Sabanov saved set points in both sets to defeat Pablo Carreno Busta/Joao Sousa 7-6(7), 7-6(8).

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Third seeds Jurgen Melzer/Edouard Roger-Vasselin enjoyed an easier day with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Feliciano Lopez/Marc Lopez in just 49 minutes. Next up for them are Tomislav Brkic/Ante Pavic, who defeated Simone Bolelli/Roman Jebavy 6-4, 6-4.

The Cordoba Open in Argentina saw third seeds Marcelo Demoliner/Matwe Middelkoop cruise past Pedro Cachin/Juan Pablo Ficovich 6-1, 6-1 in 41 minutes. Awaiting them in the last eight are Federico Gaio/Pablo Martinez, who defeated Federico Coria/Cristian Garin 7-6(5), 6-1. Facundo Bagnis/Guido Pella rounded out the day with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Pablo Cuevas/Hugo Dellien.

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Five Things To Know About Emil Ruusuvuori

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2020

Five Things To Know About Emil Ruusuvuori

Finn enjoys ATP Tour milestone in Montpellier

#NextGenATP Finn Emil Ruusuvuori announced his arrival on Tuesday by scoring his first ATP Tour win against Dennis Novak at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. The 20-year-old, currently No. 101 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, took a quieter approach to his rapid climb by racking up wins on the ATP Challenger Tour before graduating to tour-level events this year. takes a look at five things to know about this rising Finn.

1. He’s Dominated In Challenger Events
Ruusuvuori came alive on the ATP Challenger Tour in the second half of last year. From June-November, the Finn won his first four titles at that level and posted a 32-8 record. He started this year with a runner-up showing in Bendigo, where he defeated 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner in the second round.

2. He Has Musical Skills
The current #NextGenATP class includes several piano players, including Felix Auger-Aliassime and Ugo Humbert, but Ruusuvuori’s hidden talent is that he plays the drums. His favourite musician is rap icon Eminem. 

3. He Enjoyed An Outstanding Junior Career
Ruusuvuori peaked at No. 4 in the ITF Junior Rankings in 2017. His highlights that year include winning the ITF Junior Masters and reaching the boys’ singles semi-finals at the US Open.

4. He Trained With Nadal
As a reward for taking the title last September at the Rafa Nadal Open, an ATP Challenger Tour event held at the Spaniard’s academy in Mallorca, he hit with Rafael Nadal during the off-season.

5. He’s Already Beaten The World’s Best
Ruusuvuori made his first win against a Top 100 player an unforgettable one by convincingly beating Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-2 in a Davis Cup tie last September between Finland and Austria. The confidence he took from that victory sparked two more ATP Challenger Tour titles in his next four events to finish out the year.

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India's No. 1 Gunneswaran Off To Good Start In Pune

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2020

India’s No. 1 Gunneswaran Off To Good Start In Pune

Duckworth, Gerasimov also advance

Prajnesh Gunneswaran picked the ideal setting for his first tour-level win of 2020 on Tuesday. India’s top-ranked singles player beat Germany’s Yannick Maden 7-6(4), 7-6(5) at India’s ATP Tour event, the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune.

Gunneswaran reached the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells last year and will look to surpass his career-high of No. 75 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, which he achieved in April, this season. The 30-year-old left-hander, currently No. 122, will next face fourth seed Soonwoo Kwon of South Korea.

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Italian Roberto Marcora won a battle of qualifiers to book a second-round meeting with top seed Benoit Paire of France. Marcora didn’t face a break point and beat Czech Lukas Rosol 6-3, 6-2.

The two seeds in action also were victorious. Sixth seed James Duckworth of Australia beat 2017 Moselle Open champion Peter Gojowczyk 7-6(5), 6-4. The Aussie will next meet the winner of Indian wild card Sasikumar Mukund and Japan’s Taro Daniel.

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Eighth seed Egor Gerasimov of Belarus beat Paolo Lorenzi of Italy 6-2, 6-3. Gerasimov made the second round of the Australian Open, falling to eventual semi-finalist Alexander Zverev of Germany.

Gerasimov will next play Serbian qualifier Nikola Milojevic, a 7-6(5), 6-4 winner against France’s Antoine Hoang.

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New Coach Effect? Shapovalov, Youzhny Say Not So Fast

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2020

New Coach Effect? Shapovalov, Youzhny Say Not So Fast

Shapovalov has played his best tennis while working with the Russian

A new coach arrives, the player starts playing better than ever. All credit lies with the coach, right?

Looking at only the timing of their relationship, Russian Mikhail Youzhny played a major role in helping Denis Shapovalov of Canada turn around his 2019 and start 2020 as well as he did at the ATP Cup.

Youzhny started working with Shapovalov in August at the Winston-Salem Open. The 20-year-old was 17-18 on the season and in the middle of a 2-6 stretch. But after connecting with Youzhny, Shapovalov finished the season 21-10.

Youhzny, however, a former World No. 8 who retired in 2018 after 20 years as a professional, says the dynamic of a player hiring a new coach and immediately playing better is far more complex than it might seem.

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It doesn’t work like this. It’s not magic work. It’s not like you’re coming, you say something, and he’s starting to play better, like really better,” Youzhny told

All kinds of things influence how someone performs on court, Youzhny said, and Shapovalov’s career trajectory had always been up and up and up. Five months before their partnership began, the Canadian cracked the Top 20 in April after making his third ATP Masters 1000 semi-final in Miami (l. to Federer).

But under Youzhny, there’s no questioning that Shapovalov’s game has reached another level. The #NextGenATP left-hander won his first ATP Tour title at the Stockholm Open (d. Krajinovic) in October and made his maiden Masters 1000 final (l. to Djokovic) at the Rolex Paris Masters in November.

At the inaugural ATP Cup, Shapovalov started 2020 with two Top 10 wins against Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev, and he pushed Novak Djokovic to a third-set tie-break at the Final Eight in Sydney.

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The 20-year-old happily admits that Youzhny has had a positive effect, but also concedes that his recent rise is more complicated than it looks.

I don’t think it’s anything specific. I just have been working over the years and just kind of building my game. Of course, Mikhail has helped me a lot, but it comes from before then. Even when I wasn’t getting a lot of wins, when I was struggling, I was still going to the court, working every single day as hard as I could,” Shapovalov said.

I don’t think it comes from something magical. The end of last season it was kind of starting to click for me. The way I started, it’s great. So hopefully I can just keep up my form and just keep improving. Still, I’m only 20 years old, and I feel like there is a lot of room to grow and areas where I can work on.”

Youzhny has been impressed with Shapovalov’s talent, but more so with his willingness to grow and try new ideas.

He can do everything on court, like volley, backhand, serve. That’s why for me it’s interesting to work with him,” Youzhny said.

What I like, if you ask him something to try, he’s always tries to try… This is very good because he never said, ‘This? I don’t need at all. This, for what I need this one? Blah, blah, blah.’ He’s open for something new. This is really important because this is the thing that can bring you to a new level.”

For instance, at Youzhny’s urging, Shapovalov has incorporated backhand slices into his game to get more returns in play. The tactic especially helped him at the end of 2019.

Me and Mischa worked on blocking it a lot more to kind of start the point, and it’s a tricky shot for the opponents,” Shapovalov said. “I feel like it’s a really big improvement in my game.”

Players who hire new coaches, such as Shapovalov, can often be more open to new ideas, Youzhny said, which can help them improve at a quicker rate once the new mentor comes on board. Simply by deciding to bring a new coach onto the team, the player has shown he’s ready to listen to a new voice and new ideas.

My Point: Get The Players' Point Of View

He changed his mentality, he changed his mood… he changed already by himself,” Youzhny said. “Even if you say the same things [that he’s heard] 100 times, 1,000 times before but from other persons, but working in a different way, it’s feeling like something new.”

Shapovalov has appreciated Youzhny’s new approach but also his familiarity with the left-hander’s game and his opponents. Youzhny won 10 ATP Tour singles titles and went 499-416 before retiring at the 2018 St. Petersburg Open.

I just really like the way he works. He’s always making me work that little bit of extra. Whenever I think practice is over or I’m going to get a drink, he makes me do those five, 10 extra minutes of ball feeding or serves and stuff like this. And I think stuff like this goes a far way,” Shapovalov said. “He really understands me, understands what I’m going through, and I really feel that from him.

I feel like he can really help me with the players, too, in terms of what they don’t like, what to do in matches.

I think the combo has been really good. I feel like from the first day he’s really understood how I play my game and how I see myself playing. He’s really helped me get there and helped me become a good tennis player.”

Shapovalov reached a new career-high of No. 13 in the FedEx ATP Rankings last month. At this rate, by season’s end, he could be matching Youzhny’s career-high of No. 8. Together, as player and coach, they could share the glory, both deflecting praise to each other.

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Jamie Murray column: Playing until 40 and concerns over Colombian meat

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2020

Britain’s Jamie Murray reached another Grand Slam final alongside American Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the Australian Open mixed doubles. In his regular BBC Sport column, the Scot talks about their three-set defeat, playing until his 40s and how eating meat in Colombia left him concerned about failing a drugs test.

Losing the mixed doubles final and missing out on my eighth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open was very disappointing.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands and I lost to Nikola Mektic and Barbora Krejcikova, but I know if we keep putting our games out there, then we will have more chances to win Grand Slam titles in the future.

That’s the same with Neal Skupski in the men’s doubles, even though we had a disappointing tournament in Melbourne.

My goals now, which will be my goals until I finish playing, are trying to win the French Open and Wimbledon. I would love to make a career Grand Slam.

I turn 34 next week and I don’t see why I can’t play for a long while yet. Maybe I will play until my 40s.

I’ll play for as long as I can. As long as I’m fit and healthy, as long as my ranking is at a point where I’m still able to compete at the biggest tournaments in the world, and as long as I enjoy doing it.

Once you stop, you can never go back.

I’d find it difficult to replicate those feelings and emotions in other walks of life knowing the experiences I’ve had on a tennis court.

A lot of guys are playing into their 40s now, such as the Bryan brothers.

People are looking after themselves much better, we’ve got all the sports scientists and with the scoring system we play on the ATP Tour, the endurance aspect has gone out of the game.

If I’m fit and healthy, and feeling like I’d still get out there, compete and do myself justice, then why not keep playing into my 40s?

‘Beth and I will play together at Roland Garros’

In the mixed doubles final, Beth and I made a bad start in the match tie-break and it got away from us pretty quickly.

We did well to turn around the first set. Beth played some amazing shots at the end of the first set to get that in the bag for us. Then I was unlucky to lose my serve in the middle of the second set.

I thought Nikola played a great match start to finish and Barbora started to really play well in the last quarter of the match.

They got a lot of momentum and we weren’t able to stop it, especially after a bad start in the tie-break. Overall it was a great final and they deserved victory.

The match was played after the women’s final but it still felt as if there was a lot of energy on Rod Laver Arena.

Obviously people are going to leave after the women’s final; that’s normal.

It was late because we didn’t go on court until 10:30pm but there was still a decent crowd and atmosphere.

Overall we are disappointed to lose in a final but we played a lot of great tennis over the two weeks and had a lot of fun.

Beth is an amazing player, an amazing mixed doubles player and I’ve been lucky to get the chance to compete with her.

We will play together at Roland Garros and in all the tournaments we can this year.

I hope we can add to the US Open titles we won in 2018 and last year.

‘Neal and I must learn from disappointing early exit’

Even though Beth and I just came up a bit short in the final, it was still a positive tournament.

The men’s doubles was more disappointing for me and Neal.

After reaching the US Open semi-finals at the previous Grand Slam, we had high hopes of going far in Melbourne.

But we lost in the second round when we were beaten by American pair Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson.

Having saved six match points, we eventually went out after losing a final-set tie-break 14-12.

We were on top in the third set and let it get away. To go out in that way – to lose such a close match, after having loads of chances ourselves – was disappointing.

The hope is that we will learn from that – and if that situation arises again, we will do a better job of seeing it out.

We have to learn from those experiences and learn what we can do better in those moments.

But overall it has been a decent start to the year. I’ve played a lot of matches and feel better with a lot things I’ve been working on.

I feel that Neal and I can go ahead and have a good season.

Drugs test concerns after eating Colombian meat

I got a bit concerned when I saw Robert Farah, who is the world number one doubles player from Colombia, allege that he failed a drugs test because of the meat he had eaten when he was back home.

My wife Alejandra is from Colombia, and we had been over to Bogota to see her family for a few days in December.

I ate all sorts of food there and ate meat at family barbecues. It was only when I saw the story that I realised. That’s when I got a bit worried.

Eating meat is a big part of the culture in Colombia and I was there for five days.

I probably ate it a couple of times – it wasn’t like I’d eaten a whole cow! But perhaps that all it takes.

I got tested a couple of days after leaving but when the results came back, they were fine, thankfully – and I had no further issues.

Bogota is a fun city. The people there know how to enjoy themselves; they are warm people and are very friendly.

There is a lot of good food there. The fruit and veg are amazing, and a different league to what we have in the UK.

We didn’t get chance to do much sightseeing on this trip, I’ve done plenty there before; we were just spending time with Ale’s family and relaxing in the off-season.

It was a great break and set me up nicely for a busy start to the new season.

Jamie Murray was speaking to BBC Sport’s Jonathan Jurejko at Melbourne Park

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Williams needs to change strategy, says coach Mouratoglou

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2020

Serena Williams needs to “change her strategy” and “face reality” after failing to win a Grand Slam title since returning to tennis, says her coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

The American 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, 38, has lost four major finals since giving birth to her daughter in September 2017.

She was knocked out of the Australian Open in the third round last month.

“We have to accept the fact that it is not working,” said Mouratoglou.

Speaking to BBC Sport, he added: “Maybe come back with a different angle, a different strategy and different goals so she can make it.

“She does feel positive, she feels negative too because it is a failure when she doesn’t win a Grand Slam.

“We have to face reality, but she is positive that she can make it otherwise she probably wouldn’t be on a tennis court anymore.

“She believes she can make it and I believe it too. She’s not that far, but we have to change a few things.”

Williams said she made “far too many errors to be a professional athlete” when she lost to China’s 27th seed Wang Qiang in Melbourne.

She has been coached by Mouratoglou since 2012 and has won 10 of her Grand Slam singles titles under him.

She returned to tennis four months after giving birth to daughter Olympia with the aim of breaking Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.

In January, she won her first title in three years and first since becoming a mother at the Auckland Classic – her 73rd WTA title overall – but Mouratoglou says her performance in Melbourne was “disappointing”.

“We didn’t expect at all to be losing so early, or to be losing at all,” he said.

Mouratoglou added: “She had everything to retire, 23 Grand Slam titles. But she decided to come back, she decided to make all the efforts, the physical efforts, the mental efforts, to come back to the game, with the goal to score more Grand Slams and beat the all-time record.

“It’s difficult to know how many chances she will have, I don’t know how long she is going to be able to play, but being able to reach four Grand Slam finals says a lot about her level, and she’s not that far.

“Her level is good enough but we have to understand what is going on and why she is not able to win one. There is a big difference between reaching a final and winning one.”

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Pella & Schwartzman Excited To Thrill 'The Best Fans' In Cordoba

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2020

Pella & Schwartzman Excited To Thrill ‘The Best Fans’ In Cordoba

Last year, three of the four semi-finalists in Cordoba were from Argentina

Guido Pella and Diego Schwartzman led Team Argentina in Sydney at the inaugural ATP Cup. At the 24-team event, they were buoyed by Argentine fans who came to support. Now, one month later, they get to compete at home at the second edition of the Cordoba Open.

“It’s the second city in Argentina [with an ATP Tour event]. That is very important. We have a lot of friends, a lot of people who try to watch tennis,” Schwartzman said. “This is a new tournament for them and they are enjoying last year and this year again. We are here to do well and to try to enjoy it with the people in this amazing city.”

In Sydney, there were plenty of vuvuzelas, drums and other instruments Argentine fans used to cheer on their players. In Cordoba, the atmosphere will certainly be special for the home favourites.

“I think they are the best fans. Here in Argentina it’s very nice,” Schwartzman said. “Here we have a lot of good people. They are the best fans for me and for every Argentine. The people here enjoy a lot to see every sport. When some Argentine is playing, it’s very, very nice for us.”

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One year ago, Pella reached his first final of the season in Cordoba, ultimately losing in the championship match against countryman Juan Ignacio Londero. Making that run in front of his home fans gave the lefty, who is seeded second this year, plenty of confidence. Pella broke into the Top 20 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time in August.

“It’s great to play in front of your people, in front of all your country, so I think it’s a good opportunity for all the Argentine players to play [at home], to try to play their best,” Pella said. “Of course to play here in Cordoba is very nice because I did my first final here last year, so I hope to keep playing like this.”

The Cordoba Open is the first clay-court event of the season, which keeps the players in the field on their toes. Schwartzman says preparing for the switch from hard court to clay is key.

“I’m trying to think to be ready with my legs, mentally, physically, everything. I need to be ready because here on clay and with this weather, [it is] very hot, you need to be ready to play two, three hours on clay for three sets,” Schwartzman said. “I think if I am in my 100 per cent, I have a good chance to do well.”

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

Schwartzman will begin his tournament against countryman Leonardo Mayer or Spaniard Jaume Munar, while Pella will play Frenchman Corentin Moutet or Brazilian Thiago Monteiro.

“The beginning of the year was very good for me. Good start in Australia at the ATP Cup. I’m [feeling] very good right now, trying to be at my 100 per cent on clay,” Schwartzman said. “It’s been seven months already without playing on clay. It’s a different way to see every point on court, so I need to have a few days, enjoy here in Argentina and try to do my best and try to play my best tennis.”

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Taberner Topples Verdasco In Cordoba

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2020

Taberner Topples Verdasco In Cordoba

World No. 108 Balazs also earns an upset victory

World No. 198 Carlos Taberner sprung Monday’s biggest upset at the Cordoba Open, defeating seventh seed Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 after one hour and 48 minutes to earn just his second ATP Tour victory.

The qualifier was competing in his first tour-level match since losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas in a four-setter in the first round of 2018 Roland Garros. But he showed few nerves against his Spanish countryman, saving seven of the 10 break points he faced, converting five of his nine opportunities.

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Taberner arrived in Cordoba without a win at any level this season. But he rallied from down a set and a break in the first round of qualifying, and now he will play Argentine Federico Coria or Slovakian Andrej Martin in the second round of the main draw.

Verdasco appeared in control after the first set, playing the match on his terms. But 15 unforced errors in the second set turned the tide, and the Spaniard was unable to find his rhythm again. He wasn’t the only player to suffer a surprise loss on the first day of main draw action, though.

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World No. 108 Attila Balazs upset 2019 Antalya champion Lorenzo Sonego 6-2, 7-6(3), triumphing after two hours and one minute. The Hungarian saved all eight break points he faced to advance to a second-round showdown against third seed Cristian Garin, who won two ATP Tour titles (Houston, Munich) last year.

The winner of that match will play sixth seed Pablo Cuevas or Italian Gianluca Mager. Cuevas beat home favorite Federico Delbonis 7-5, 6-2 on Monday, while Mager battled past Argentine qualifier Juan Pablo Ficovich 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.

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Slovakia's Gombos Stuns Carreno Busta In Montpellier

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2020

Slovakia’s Gombos Stuns Carreno Busta In Montpellier

Pospisil sets second-round meeting with Shapovalov

Slovakian Norbert Gombos earned the upset of the day on Monday at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier.

The 29-year-old right-hander knocked out sixth seed and former World No. 10 Pablo Carreno Busta 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 to reach the second round of the ATP 250. Gombos, No. 104 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, will next meet Finnish qualifier Emil Ruusuvuori or Austrian Dennis Novak.

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France’s Gregoire Barrere set up a second-round meeting with fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov after beating Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-2, 7-6(6). The 25-year-old Frenchman saved 88 per cent (7/8) of the break points he faced and won 60 per cent (15/25) of his second-serve points.

In the only other main draw match of the day, Canadian Vasek Pospisil was perfect on break points and beat Slovenian Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-4. The 29-year-old Pospisil saved all five break points faced and converted both break points he saw on Bedene’s serve.

Pospisil will next face countryman and third seed Denis Shapovalov. The #NextGenATP left-hander leads their ATP Head2Head 1-0, a straight-sets win last month at the ASB Classic in Auckland.

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Rojer/Tecau Beat Felix/Shapovalov In Montpellier

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2020

Rojer/Tecau Beat Felix/Shapovalov In Montpellier

Second seeds are pursuing their first title of the season

Second seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau defeated Canadian #NextGenATP stars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov 6-4, 6-4 on Monday to reach the second round of the Open Sud de France in Montpellier.

Rojer and Tecau, who have won 20 tour-level titles as a team, saved all seven break points they faced against Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov. They broke twice — once in each set — en route to a 78-minute victory. Rojer and Tecau will next play Dominic Inglot/Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi or Alexander Bublik/Damir Dzumhur. 

In the other doubles match of the day in Montpellier, Nikola Cacic and Mate Pavic eliminated wild cards Kenny De Schepper and Hugo Gaston 6-4, 6-4. They will face the winner between top seeds Kevin Krawietz/Nicolas Mahut and Adrian Mannarino/Hugo Nys.

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At the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune, Italians Paolo Lorenzi/Stefano Travaglia beat Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis and Russian Evgeny Donskoy 6-4, 6-4. On Tuesday in India, there will be a blockbuster when doubles legend Leander Paes and his partner, Matthew Ebden, face second seeds Divij Sharan and Artem Sitak.

In Cordoba, fourth seeds Leonardo Mayer/Andres Molteni ousted fellow Argentines Guillermo Duran/Juan Ignacio Londero 6-3, 1-6, 10-5 to reach the second round of the Cordoba Open.

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