A pair of American advanced to the second round of the ATP event in Kazakhstan while two Australians split the difference in opening matches on Monday.

The tournament in the re-named national capital of Nur-Sultan was added to the calendar only a few months ago after the COVID-19 shutdown which halted all spring and early summer tennis.

American Frances Tiafoe levelled his series with Corentin Moutet at one win each with a 6-3, 6-2 victory after losing to the French player in Sardegna a fortnight ago.

Compatriot Tommy Paul defeated Stefano Travaglia 7-6(2), 6-3, breaking the Italian’s serve four times and saving six of eight break points to improve to 13-11 this season.

There was hard luck on the day for Aussie James Duckworth, who went down to veteran Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 7-6(5) in 97 minutes, with the Spaniard improving to 3-0 in the series.

He now faces a second Aussie in fourth seed John Millman..

But Jordan Thompson staged a 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-2 fightback to eliminate Cameron Norrie, handing the Briton a third loss in his last four matches.

The top four seeds led by Frenchman Benoit Paire, all received first-round byes.

Tiafoe finished off Moutet with 24 winners in 82 minutes. β€œI played really well tonight, I was intense from the beginning,” the winner said. “I’m happy I came and took care of business.”

Tiafoe next plays second seeded Serb Miomir Kecmanovic, a good friend whom he defeated in their only other match, played at 2019 Miami.

β€œHe’s one of my better friends on Tour, he’s been playing really good. He is around his career high right now (40th) and I am climbing back. It’s going to be a really good match.”

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