Second-seeded Tomas Berdych defeated Benoit Paire of France 6-1, 7-6 (6) in a first-round match in hot and humid conditions at the Japan Open on Monday.
Berdych used a powerful serve and strong play from the baseline to win in 1 hour, 44 minutes under a blazing sun at Ariake Colosseum.
The Czech player raced to a 5-0 lead in the first set, breaking Paire in the second and fourth games. Paire finally held serve to make it 5-1, but Berdych closed out the set in the next game on serve at love.
''I thought it might be a touch match,'' Berdych said. ''I was actually surprised at how the first set went. He made me work harder in the second set.''
The second set was on serve until the fifth game, when Berdych broke Paire to go up 3-2. It seemed Berdych would roll to the win, but in the 10th game Paire battled back, ripping a backhand winner to level at 5-5.
Both players then held serve to send it to a tiebreaker, where Berdych prevailed 8-6 after saving...