Monfils, Almagro advance in Barcelona
Seeded players Gael Monfils and Nicolas Almagro won hard-fought matches Tuesday to advance to the third round of the Barcelona Open.
The seventh-seeded Monfils rallied to beat Robin Haase 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2 in his second tournament since being sidelined for nearly three months because of a wrist injury.
Almagro, seeded eighth, downed Pablo Andujar 7-5, 7-6 (1) to improve to 16-2 on clay this season and move within one victory of breaking into the top 10 for the first time. He is only six points behind current No. 10 Mardy Fish.
''When you're on the court you try not to think about that,'' said Almagro, who converted his fifth match point. ''I still think I can play much better.''
Fourth-ranked Andy Murray and fellow top-10 player Tomas Berdych were forced to pull out of the event earlier Tuesday.
Murray, seeded second behind top-ranked Rafael Nadal, was bothered by the same elbow injury that flared up during his Monte Carlo Masters semifinal loss to Nadal on Saturday.
Berdych, seeded fifth, exited because of a stomach virus.
In the opening round, Milos Raonic easily dispatched Radek Stepanek 6-4, 6-2 in only his second clay tournament after debuting at Monte Carlo last week.
''I was feeling comfortable out there. I'm happy with how I played and how it all went,'' Raonic said. ''Stepanek is a tricky guy to play and he does a lot of different things, but I was happy with how I dealt with everything.''
Richard Gasquet rallied to beat Juan Ignacio Chela 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4, and former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero defeated Xavier Malisse 6-4, 6-2 in his first match since the U.S. Open. The Spaniard had been recovering from wrist and knee surgeries in October.
Other first-round winners included Nikolay Davydenko, Daniel Gimeno-Traver, Ivan Dodig, Carlos Berlocq and Kei Nishikori.