Top seed Cilic, Stepanek win openers in Vienna
Top-seeded Marin Cilic eased past qualifier Alejandro Falla of Colombia 6-2, 6-3 in the opening round of the Bank Austria Trophy on Tuesday.
Cilic, ranked 13th, has a slim chance of qualifying for next month's ATP World Tour Finals, along with second-seeded Radek Stepanek and third-seeded Gael Monfils.
Next up for Cilic, a wild card from Croatia making his first trip to Vienna in three years, will be Daniel Brands of Germany for a place in the quarterfinals.
Another two-time winner on tour this year, Stepanek, defeated Lukasz Kubot of Poland 6-4, 6-1.
Stepanek hit 10 aces, as he continued the good form he found two weeks ago in Shanghai, where he reached his first quarterfinals since April. The Czech, ranked 14th, reached three finals in January and February, and won two, but slumped after that.
He next plays Frederico Gil of Portugal.
Fourth-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber beat qualifier Dieter Kindlmann 6-1, 6-3 in an all-German match.
Kohlschreiber converted four of 11 break points but wasn't happy.
"I was quite nervous to play him. Everyone expected me to win so that put some pressure on me," said Kohlschreiber, who reached the semifinals in Vienna last year.
"They've made the court a bit faster than last year so it'll take me some time to get used to it."
Sixth-seeded Feliciano Lopez, the 2004 champion, defeated Austrian wild card Andreas Haider-Maurer 6-4, 6-4. Lopez conceded just three points on serve in the opening set. He dropped serve early in the second set before breaking back twice.
No. 7 Jurgen Melzer, Austria's main hope, beat Marco Chiudinelli of Switzerland 7-6 (4), 7-6 (10). The 35th-ranked Melzer saved three set points in the second set before closing out the match on his third match point. Melzer has gotten as far as the quarterfinals three times, including last year, in his hometown event.
"It was tough and I am just happy to be through," said Melzer, who received treatment for an injured Achilles' tendon this week.
"I am not pain-free and I probably wouldn't carry on if this tournament wasn't in Vienna."
In other first-round play, Jan Hajek of the Czech Republic defeated Andreas Seppi of Italy, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-3, and Michael Berrer topped Steve Darcis of Belgium 6-3, 6-2. The German was added to the main draw as a replacement for defending champion Philipp Petzschner, who pulled out earlier Tuesday after injuring his left calf in training.