Ernests Gulbis

Former top 10 player Ernests Gulbis of Latvia moved into the second round of the ATP Maharashtra Open after a hard-fought win over Pedro Sousa on Monday.

Gulbis, who is ranked 95th in the world, went past Sousa of Portugal 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the first round of the hard court event in the western Indian city of Pune.

The 30-year-old Gulbis, who reached the semifinals of the 2014 French Open, has had an injury plagued career but is aiming to climb up the rankings in 2019.

“The goal is to play well, the goal is to be injury free. If I can play well stay away from injury then I can compete with the best,” Gulbis said after the win.

“I don’t set many goals but to stabilise myself in the top 50, that’s for sure.”

Earlier in the day, Belgium’s Steve Darcis knocked out sixth seed Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain 6-3, 6-4.

Eighth seed Spaniard Pablo Andujar also suffered a first-round exit after going down to Evgeny Donskoy of Russia 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (8-6).

Meanwhile, top-ranked Indian singles player Prajnesh Gunneswaran, 110th in the world table, lost to American Michael Mmoh 5-7, 3-6.

Defending champion Gilles Simon of France and world number six Kevin Anderson of South Africa will be in action in round two after getting first-round byes.

The Maharashtra tournament is a key warm-up event for the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year, which starts on January 14 in Melbourne.

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