Kunitsyn cracks Malisse to progress in Houston
Out-of-form Igor Kunitsyn earned a welcome victory at the US Men's Clay Court Championships in Houston.
The Russian has been in miserable form this season, winning just two of 11 matches on the ATP Tour, but he claimed his third win of the year with a 6-4 6-2 win over Belgium's Xavier Malisse.
After a closely-fought opening stages, Kunitsyn grabbed the critical break at 5-4 to clinch the opening set, and Malisse was left to rue six double faults as his service game deserted him in the second set.
Kunitsyn, who was ranked inside the world's top 60 last summer, has slipped to No. 91 in the world rankings following a poor start to the year, but his morale-boosting win sees him reach the second round, where he will face either compatriot Alex Bogomolov Jr or home favourite Ryan Harrison.
Meanwhile, at the Grand Prix Hassan II in Morocco, seventh seed Albert Ramos won an all-Spanish battle against Pere Riba. After a 6-2 6-3 victory, Ramos will now face Romania's Victor Hanescu, who was leading 6-2 3-0 when Malek Jaziri retired.
French duo Paul-Henri Mathieu and Jeremy Chardy both progressed to the second round in Casablanca. Mathieu defeated home favourite Mehdi Ziadi 6-3 6-1, while Chardy saved eight of nine break points to battle past Argentinean qualifier Federico Delbonis 6-4 7-5 to set up a second-round encounter with top seed Florian Mayer.