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Tennis

Verdasco, Melzer advance at Monte Carlo Masters

MONACO (AP) - Fernando Verdasco of Spain, Jurgen Melzer of Austria and Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine advanced to the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Monday.

The 13th-seeded Verdasco rallied past Olivier Rochus of Belgium 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 and will next play Ivan Dodig of Croatia. The Spaniard dropped serve twice in the first set but didn't face another break point.

"I've got to the final here before, so it's one of my favorite tournaments,'' said Verdasco, who was crushed 6-0, 6-1 by seven-time champion Rafael Nadal of Spain in the final two years ago.

The 15th-seeded Melzer and Dolgopolov, seeded 16th, had much easier matches.

Dolgopolov defeated Juan Igancio Chela of Argentina 6-2, 6-2, setting up a match against Bernard Tomic of Australia.

The 19-year-old Tomic was happy with how he mixed sliced forehands with heavy groundstrokes in his 6-4, 6-3 win against Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan.

"Regardless of any surface, he's pretty hard to play against,'' Tomic said. "A lot of clay-court players play behind the line. But I think my tennis is something different. If I play my tennis, they struggle with my game - even on clay.''

Melzer downed Lukasz Kubot 6-2, 7-5 after breaking the Pole five times. He will play Julien Benneteau of France, who topped Spain's Marcel Granollers 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.

Albert Montanes advanced with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 against big-serving Milos Raonic of Canada, who hit nine aces. The Spaniard next plays seventh-seeded Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia.

Paul-Henri Mathieu, trying to find his way back after a long-term knee injury, thrashed Donald Young 6-0, 6-1. The Frenchman saved four break points of his own and broke Young's serve six times.

"I was happy the way I was moving, and I was keeping the ball in the court,'' Mathieu said. "I don't have the knees of a 20-year-old anymore. But I'm able to play 100 percent without any problems. Things are improving.''

Mathieu next plays No. 12 Kei Nishikori of Japan or Spain's Albert Ramos, runner-up Sunday at the Grand Prix Hassan II tournament.

In other first-round matches, Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber and Finland's Jarkko Nieminen won in straight sets.

Kohlschreiber won 6-4, 6-4 against Guillaume Rufin of France. Nieminen beat Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-6 (3) to set up a match against Nadal on Wednesday.

Nadal, the six-time French Open champion, is chasing his first title since winning at Roland Garros last year.

"I have lots of success on clay in the past, so I want to do well here,'' Nadal said. "I haven't won a title (for 10 months), but how many finals have I played?''

Nadal has lost to Novak Djokovic in seven consecutive finals, and he could face the top-ranked Serb in the final. Djokovic is scheduled to play against Italy's Andreas Seppi or Romania's Victor Hanescu.

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