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Tsonga, Djokovic go through in Halle

JO-WILFRIED Tsonga needed just over an hour to reach the second round of the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, when he beat compatriot Fabrice Santoro 7-5, 6-2 yesterday.

The 24-year-old Frenchman, ranked ninth in the world, is making his tournament debut, but had few problems in the straight-sets victory against the 36-year-old Santoro who is retiring at the end of the season.

Tsonga faces a harder second round match against former world No. 2 Tommy Haas after the German took Roger Federer to five sets in the fourth round at the French Open last week.

Local favorite Mischa Zverev also booked his passage into the second round with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Australia's Joseph Sirianni.

Zverev will next play 2007 Halle champion Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic.

No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia also advanced to the second round. The world No. 4 brushed aside Italy's Simone Bolelli 7-5, 6-2.

In Edgbaston, Birmingham, Maria Sharapova beat Stephanie Dubois 6-4, 6-2 in the first round of the Aegon Classic on Monday.

The tournament, a warm-up event for Wimbledon, helped launch Sharapova's fledgling career when she won it in 2004, aged just 17. Three weeks later she beat Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final.

"I'm coming off a really long layover, and it's so great to be back on court that you try to cherish every single moment," said the former top-ranked player. "I have such great memories of this little stadium."

Returning after 10 months out due to shoulder surgery, Sharapova adapted well to the breezy and cool conditions, hitting ambitious ground strokes and serving solidly.

The former top-ranked Russian next plays Alexa Glatch of the US, who beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands, the ninth seed, 7-6 (4), 6-3.

In matches played yesterday, India's Sania Mirza eased past Tatiana Poutchek of Belarus 6-1, 6-2; 16th seed Melinda Czink of Hungary beat Spain's Arantxa Parra Santonja 6-4, 6-3 and home favorite Anne Keothavong, seeded 11, saw off Swede Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-2.

China's Zheng Jie is the top seed.


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