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Amritraj, Dent stay on track

PRAKASH Amritraj and Taylor Dent won their opening matches at the Hall of Fame Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, on Monday.

India's Amritraj, the runner-up last year, beat Danai Udomchoke of Thailand, 6-1, 6-4 and Dent, the 2002 Newport champion, defeated Marcos Daniel of Brazil, 6-2, 6-1.

In other first-round action, American Brendan Evans ousted fourth seed Benjamin Becker 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-5, when the German doubled-faulted on the final point. Jesse Levine beat Australia's Chris Guccione, 7-6 (2) 7-6 (2); Daniel Brands of Germany beat Vince Spadea 6-0, 6-4; and Robby Ginepri ousted Santiago Ventura of Spain, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.

Top-seeded Mardy Fish withdrew after replacing Andy Roddick on the United States Davis Cup team for the quarterfinal against Croatia this weekend.

Fish was selected for the team a day after Roddick lost an epic Wimbledon final to Roger Federer. Roddick withdrew from the Davis Cup citing a right hip flexor injury.

Amritraj, whose father, Vijay, won Newport in 1980 and 1984, lost last year's final to two-time champion Fabrice Santoro of France, who will retire at the end of the year.

The second-seeded Santoro didn't lose a set last year in defending his title.

"We'll talk about him when he loses a set," Amritraj said.

Dent echoed those who are calling Swiss Federer the best ever now that he has won a 15th grand slam title to surpass Pete Sampras for most career major singles titles.

"I'm happy for Federer. I don't think we've ever had a better ambassador for the sport," Dent said. "I think he's taken over the mantel as the best ever. I'm an American. I hate to see Pete Sampras dethroned a bit."

The Hall of Fame Championships are held in conjunction with induction ceremonies into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The 2009 class - highlighted by Monica Seles - is scheduled to be enshrined on Saturday before semifinal play.

In Bastad, Sweden, fifth-seeded Sorana Cirstea of Romania beat Swedish wildcard Johanna Larsson 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 in the first round of the Swedish Open on Monday.

Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova also advanced to the second round of the claycourt WTA tournament, coming from one set down to defeat US veteran Jill Craybas 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in a rain-delayed match.


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