TENNIS

Rotterdam Open: Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin advance in opening round

Second seed Dimitrov had to dig deep to beat Japan's Yuichi Sugita 6-4, 7-6(5)

Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin, the duo who faced off in last year’s season-ending ATP Finals, both advanced at the Rotterdam Open on Wednesday with straight-sets wins.

Second seed Dimitrov, who beat Belgian fourth seed Goffin in the London final last November, had to fight back in the second set to defeat Japan’s Yuichi Sugita 6-4, 7-6(5) in their first-round encounter.

Goffin made light work of veteran Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, cruising through 6-1, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals in his second match of the week. Dimitrov won the opening set against Sugita but fell behind a break in the second before levelling for 5-all.

As the set went into a tie-break, the Bulgarian surged ahead as he took a 5-2 lead but had to hold off his opponent as Sugita clawed back to within a point of levelling. But Dimitrov then sent a forehand into the corner to earn a pair of match points and advanced on his second with a service winner to end the resistance of the 41st-ranked Sugita.

Last week’s Montpellier champion Lucas Pouille exited in his opening match, losing 7-5, 6-4 to Andrey Rublev. The Russian was joined in the second round at the Ahoy Arena by Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France, who advanced after just 15 minutes when compatriot Richard Gasquet, the Montpellier finalist, retired with a groin injury trailing 3-1.

Top seed Roger Federer is expected on court later on Wednesday as he launches his bid for a return to the world’s number one ranking against Belgian Ruben Bemelmans in a first-time meeting. The 36-year-old Federer could become the oldest man by three years to hold the number one spot if he reaches the semi-finals at an event he has won twice.

Pouille lost in 93 minutes, hitting a dozen aces in defeat but losing serve four times. The 34th-ranked Rublev owns his only career title from Umag last summer on clay. Herbert will play Russian Daniil Medvedev in the second round. Robin Haase won an all-Dutch affair over Thiemo de Bakker 6-2, 6-2.

-Inputs from AFP

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