Soweto - Local favourite Rik de Voest led the way on Monday as South African players dominated the opening day of the singles draw at the Soweto Open men’s tennis tournament.
De Voest, the seventh seed, held his nerve to beat big-serving German Richard Becker 6-4, 6-4, reaching the second round of the ATP Challenger Tour event.
Countrymen Jean Andersen and teenager Wayne Montgomery also progressed beyond the first stage.
“Becker served well and, when he hit them in, I didn’t really have too many chances,” De Voest said after his victory.
“The few chances that I did create, I was then able to capitalise on. I also knew that when the match got a little tighter, there was a good chance he may not make as many serves, and he might miss a few balls.
"I just used a little bit of experience there.”
De Voest had twice reached the final of the Soweto Open.
Currently residing in Canada, De Voest said he enjoyed being back in his home country after the SA Open and Soweto Open events were cancelled last season.
“It’s nice to be playing back home,” he said.
“I was here (in Potchefstroom) in December for the Futures event and, other than that, it was a while ago since I last played here.
“It’s good to be back in Soweto. They’ve resurfaced the courts and I’m happy to start the week with a win.”
Andersen beat Indian qualifier Purav Raja 6-3, 6-4, while 17-year-old Montgomery fought hard to secure a 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 victory over Phenyo Matong of Botswana.
Montgomery easily won the first set, but allowed Matong back into the game, before fighting back to win the match.
“I don’t feel I played my best tennis, but the first round is always hard and I’m glad to have pulled it through,” Montgomery said.
“I lost concentration a bit and slacked down. I lost a bit of intensity, but hopefully I won’t do that again.”
Germany's Dustin Brown, who won the Soweto Open title in 2010, also progressed to the second round, defeating American Tyler Hochwalt 7-5, 6-1.
Results on the first day of the Soweto Open men’s tournament at the Arthur Ashe tennis centre in Jabavu on Monday:
Jean Anderson (RSA) bt Purav Raja (IND) 6-3, 6-4
Michal Przysiezny  (POL) bt Denis Zivkovic 6-3, 7-5
Fabiano De Paula  (BRA) bt Fabrice Martin (FRA) 7-6, (7/3) 7-6 (7/5)
Rik de Voest  (RSA) bt Richard Becker (GER) 6-4, 6-4
Dustin Brown  (GER) bt Tyler Hochwalt (USA) 7-5, 6-1
Vasek Pospisil (CAN) bt Divij Sharan (IND) 6-2, 6-4
Wayne Montgomery (RSA) bt Phenyo Matong (BOT) 6-1, 2-6, 6-3
Prakash Amritraj (IND)/Rajeev Ram (USA) bt Thiago Alves (BRA)/Augusto Laranja (BRA) 6-1, 6-3
Mate Pavic (CRO)/Goran Tosic  (MNE) bt Andre Ghem (BRA)/Ricardo Hocevar (BRA) 6-7, 6-3, 10-7
Richard Becker (GER)/Fabrice Martin (FRA) bt Keith-Patrick Crowley (RSA)/Tucker Vorster (RSA) 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 10-4 (MTB)
Sander Groen (NED)/Lukas Lacko (SVK) bt Gregoire Burquier (FRA)/Michal Konecny (SVK) 6-7, 7-6 (4)
Fabiano De Paula (BRA)/Thales Turini (BRA) bt Renier Moolman (RSA)/Dean O’Brien (RSA) 6-1, 7-6 (8/6)