ATP Nur-Sultan: Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul, Fernando Verdasco make winning start

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ATP Nur-Sultan: Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul, Fernando Verdasco make winning start

The Astana Open in the Kazakhstan capital of Nur-Sultan is up and running, with five first-round encounters competed on Monday. Frances Tiafoes scored the seventh victory of 2020, defeating Corentin Moutet 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 22 minutes.

Frances saved four out of five break chances and stole the rival's serve four times to control the scoreboard and enter the last 16. They traded breaks at the beginning of the clash and the American grabbed another one in game eight, rattling off three straight games at 3-3 to close the opening set.

Tiafoe was the only player on the court in set number two, serving well and delivering breaks in games one and five to move over the top and make a winning start. The 8th seed Jordan Thompson ousted Cameron Norrie 5-7, 7-6, 6-2 in two hours and 40 minutes, fending off a match point in the second set tie break and dominating the third to cross the finish line.

Thompson won two points more than Norrie, delivering four breaks and getting broken thrice to emerge at the top after gaining a boost in the closing stages of the second. The Aussie grabbed a break at 5-5 in the first set to bring it home, opening a 3-1 lead in set number two before the Briton bounced back to stay in touch until the tie break.

Norrie saved a set point at 5-6 and had a match point in the tie break at 6-5, losing three straight points to keep Thompson in contention. The Aussie produced four quick holds in the deciding set, earning breaks in games three and seven to advance.

The 7th seed Tommy Paul defeated Stefano Travaglia 7-6, 6-3, repelling six out of eight break chances and stealing the Italian's serve four times to move through in straight sets. Travaglia led 5-2 in the opener and wasted four set points on serve in games eight and ten.

Five players won their first-round encounters in Nur-Sultan on Monday.

Overcoming those challenges, Tommy won the tie break 7-2 and grabbed the last four games from 2-3 in set number two to race towards the finish line, winning the 13th ATP match of the season.

The Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco toppled James Duckworth 6-4, 7-6 in an hour and 45 minutes, beating the Aussie for the first time since back-to-back triumphs in Indian Wells and Miami five and a half years ago. Verdasco lost serve once and delivered two breaks from ten opportunities, securing the opener with a break at 4-4 and working harder in set number two.

Duckworth wasted two set points on the return at 5-4 and lost the tie break 7-5 to propel the Spaniard over the top.