EASTBOURNE, United Kingdom — France's Gilles Simon made a winning return following months of knee problems to advance at the Eastbourne International on Monday.
The third seed, once a member of the world top ten, rediscovered his form in a 6-3, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4 defeat of Kazakhstan's Evgeny Korolev that represented his first ATP-level win of the year.
The win lifted Simon's record for the season to 1-4 after his first match of any kind in more than two months.
He will hope to continue his progress when he faces Andrey Kuznetsov in the second round after the Russian went through when Japan's Kei Nishikori retired with a hip injury while trailing 6-4, 3-1 in their match.
Simon led two more French colleagues into round two, with eighth seed Michael Llodra dispatching German qualifier Martin Emmrich 6-0, 6-3 and Stephane Robert putting out Argentine Leonardo Mayer 7-6 (7/4), 6-4.
The French pair meet in the next round.
Argentine sixth seed Horacio Zeballos got off to a winning start against Slovak Lukas Lacko, defeating him 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.
Spaniards Nicolas Almago and Queen's semi-finalist Feliciano Lopez are the top two seeds, with Almagro to face Luksaz Kubit in the first round while Lopez plays British wild card James Ward.
The joint ATP-WTA event features both French Open champion Francesca Schiavone and beaten finalist Samantha Stosur of Australia.
Third seed Stosur recovered from a break down in the second set to dismiss US Open quarter-finalist Melanie Oudin 6-4, 6-4, leaving the American with five consecutive losses since her last win nearly two months ago.
Schiavone, due to start as second seed with a first-round match against Sorana Cirstea of Romania, said she's still getting to grips with the enormity of having won her first Grand Slam title nine days ago.
But the bubbly 29-year-old Italian knocked back criticism that the breakthrough might have come too late in her career.
"Everyone thinks we have to have it all early. But everyone is different. I want to live this moment, it's a fantastic emotion," she said.
"Something has changed in my life, I'm learning new things and am enjoying it a lot. Who is to say what is 'late'? At 29 it was the time for me."
French eighth seed Marion Bartoli reached the second round by beating Russian Vera Dushevina 6-4, 7-5, while former runner-up Daniela Hantuchova started with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Britain's Anne Keothavong.
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