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Ilya Ivashka eases past Pablo Andujar in Sofia, meets Gael Monfils next.

Ivashka Downs Andujar in Sofia Opener

Belarusian sets up meeting with No. 2 seed Gael Monfils

Ilya Ivashka continued his career-best season on the ATP Tour with a straight-sets victory over Pablo Andujar in the first round of the Sofia Open, winning 6-4, 6-3.

Ivashka, who levelled his ATP Head2Head against Andujar at 1-1, dictated proceedings. He broke the Spaniard’s serve four times and served eight aces to advance to the second round.

“I think it was a good match for me,” Ivashka said following the win. “I played very clean, I was serving really good.”

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The Belarusian will take on second seed Gael Monfils in his next match. Ivashka has already defeated the entertaining Frenchman this year, winning in three sets at the Tokyo Olympics.

“He’s a great opponent, he has a lot of experience and I hope it’s going to be a great match,” Ivashka said. “He’s a great guy and it’s always nice to play against him.”

The 27-year-old now holds a 29-14 record in 2021, which includes 12 victories in his past 14 matches. Ivashka lifted his first ATP Tour title last month in Winston-Salem, and currently sits at a career-high No. 45 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

In other action, James Duckworth defeated Emil Ruusuvuori in a three-set battle, winning 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. Duckworth broke the Ruusuvuori serve in the penultimate game of the match before holding serve to reach the second round, where he will meet Benoit Paire.

The Australian moved to a career-high World No. 56 following his run to his first ATP Tour final in Nur-Sultan last week. Duckworth did not drop a set in his opening four matches before losing to Soonwoo Kwon in the final.

In other action, Gianluca Mager became the first player to advance to the quarter-finals with a 7-6(3), 6-3 win against Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic. Another Serbian, fifth-seeded Filip Krajinovic eased past Belarusian wild card Alexander Lazorov 6-0, 6-3 in his first round match.

Illya Marchenko also moved on to the second round, defeating fellow qualifier Andreas Seppi 6-4, 6-2 and improving his ATP Head2Head against the Italian to 3-1.

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