ATP Tour

Tsonga makes winning return

2015-03-28 22:30
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (AFP)

Key Biscayne - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has celebrated his return to tennis after a lingering arm injury by beating Tim Smyczek on Saturday to reach the third round of the Miami Masters.

Tsonga, who hadn't played since France's Davis Cup tie against Switzerland in November, defeated the American 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in a match postponed by the rain that washed out Friday's night session at Crandon Park.

"I didn't expect to play my best tennis today ever, but I'm happy the way I managed my match," said the Frenchman, ranked 13th in the world.

"I played pretty solid, I just had a little hole in the second set.

"But it's normal when you didn't play since couple of months now," he added. "I hope it's going to be better and better, but for first match was already something good for me."

Tsonga finished with 30 winners and 36 unforced errors against his 74th-ranked opponent. The former Australian Open finalist converted two of his break point chances and delivered 10 aces.

Tsonga next faces good friend and Davis Cup team-mate Gael Monfils, a 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) winner over Serb Filip Krajinovic.

"It's always special to play a good friend," Tsonga said. "But anyway, we know both that on the court there is no friends. But of course, whatever happens on court, we are good friends outside."

Elsewhere on a schedule catch-up day, Japan's fourth seed Kei Nishikori defeated Russian Mikhail Youzhny 6-2, 6-1 then had to wrestle after his media conference with a wiggly bulldog which has somehow been adopted as a tournament mascot and splashed all over social media.

"Just met Manny The Frenchie! He is very famous! :) I think more fans than me," tweeted Asia's top player and the 2014 US Open runner-up.

France's Gilles Simon, the 12th seed, joined compatriots Tsonga and Monfils in the third round, beating Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 6-0.

Adrian Mannarino earned another French win as he defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain 6-4, 3-6, 6-2

In women's action, world number one and seven-time champion Serena Williams was belatedly opening her campaign with a second-round match against Monica Niculescu.

There was a second-round shocker for Canadian sixth seed Eugenie Bouchard the 2014 Wimbledon finalist who was beaten 6-0, 7-6 (7/4) by 113th-ranked German qualifier Tatjana Maria.

Seeds Sara Errani, the Italian number 11, and number 13 German Angelique Kerber, both advanced in their delayed matches, with Errani defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 7-6 (7/5) and Kerber dismissing Briton Heather Watson 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.

Order reigned in the third round for favorites.

Former number one and fourth seed Caroline Wozniacki beat Estonian Kaia Kanepi 4-6, 6-1, 6-3, eighth seed Ekaterina Makarova beat Elina Svitolina 6-0, 6-4 and Andrea Petkovic, seeded ninth, beat France's Kristina Mladenovic 6-0, 6-2.

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