Sweeting opens U.S. Clay defense with win

April 11, 2012 at 12:03 AM

HOUSTON, April 11 (UPI) -- Ryan Sweeting began his defense of the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships with a first-round win over Ricardo Mello Tuesday.

Sweeting, who was considered a surprise winner of the Houston tournament last year, moved on to the second round after ousting the Brazilian 6-3, 7-6 (8-6).

Sweeting served six aces and saved 7-of-9 break point opportunities in the 108-minute match.

Also advancing was Houston native and qualifier Michael Russell, who rallied to beat Spain's Daniel Gimeno-Traver 2-6, 7-5, 6-1. Russell will face top-seeded Mardy Fish on Thursday.

Other first-round winners were Igor Kunitsyn of Russia, Tatsuma Ito of Japan and Italian Paolo Lorenzi.

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