Gael Monfils of France served 15 aces to beat John Blake of the United States 7-6 (5), 7-5 in the first round of the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships on Monday.
Blake, once ranked No. 4, played his 51st match at River Oaks Country Club where he is a crowd favorite but Monfils won cheers for his performance in his first match in the city.
Monfils, who played in only 10 tournaments last year because of a knee injury, matched the sixth-highest total of aces in the tournament. He will next face top-seeded Nicolas Almagro of Spain.
Rhyne Williams of the United States, playing on a wild card, beat Guido Pella of Argentina 7-5, 7-5 in an earlier first-round match.
Monfils broke Blake in the 11th game of the second set on three straight errors by Blake and wrapped it up quickly with a love final game that included two aces. He won at the first match point on Blake's backhand error.
''I am 100 percent with the level the way I played,'' Monfils said. ''I was happy the way I was moving...