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Berdych Wins Opener Against Paire

Tokyo, Japan

Berdych© Hiroshi SatohTomas Berdych beat Benoit Paire on Monday.

World No. 6 Tomas Berdych defeated Benoit Paire 6-1, 7-6(6) to win his opener on Monday at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo.

The second seed served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but was broken for the first time by Paire. Berdych was forced to save a set point in the ensuing tie-break before closing out the Frenchman in one hour and 44 minutes. He won 83 per cent of his first serve points.

The Czech has hit his stride in recent weeks, reaching the Winston-Salem Open final (l. to Isner), upsetting top-ranked Roger Federer en route to the US Open semi-finals (l. to Murray) and leading his country through to the Davis Cup final on the road against Argentina by winning three live rubbers. He is currently seventh in the South African Airways ATP Rankings Race To London, which determines the eight players who qualify for the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Berdych is bidding to reach the season finale for the third straight year, having reached the semi-finals in 2011.

“I’m going match-by-match. So far I’ve had a pretty good season,” Berdych told RakutenOpen.com. “I’m not counting it in general. I had some great results that I can count towards that and I hope if I continue with my game, it will qualify me for London.”

Berdych is one of two former champions in the Tokyo draw, along with top-seeded reigning titlist Andy Murray. Berdych triumphed in 2008 versus Juan Martin del Potro.

“I have nice memories here. I like coming back to Tokyo,” said Berdych. “It was one of the biggest tournaments I won in the past. It gives me positive thinking. As with any other week, I want to do well and try and play my tennis.”

Seventh seed Stanislas Wawrinka overcame an inspired performance by Japanese wild card Hiroki Moriya, edging the 21 year old 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 in two hours and 15 minutes. Both players won 103 total points. Wawrinka will face Jeremy Chardy or wild card Yuichi Sugita next.

World No. 32 Viktor Troicki made a winning start, defeating Dutchman Robin Haase 6-2, 6-3 in 64 minutes. The Serbian fired 12 aces and broke serve three times as he claimed his 25th win of the season. The 26-year-old Troicki was a semi-finalist in Tokyo two years ago (l. to Nadal).

At the start of the day, Lukas Lacko had quickly opened main draw proceedings with a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Albert Ramos. The Slovakian won 75 per cent of his service points and capitalised on five of his seven break point chances to move through in 59 minutes.

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