Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev overcame a tricky first-round test against Fabio Fognini and Diego Schwartzman 7-6(5), 6-2 to make a winning start at the Mutua Madrid Open on Sunday.
The Russian duo recovered from a 0-2 deficit in the first set against Fognini and Schwartzman, who recently reached the quarter-finals at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. Khachanov and Rublev broke back and took them into a tightly-contested tie-break, where just one mini-break for 2/0 made the difference for the Russians.
Khachanov and Rublev took charge in the second set, creating four break opportunities and converting twice to close out the victory in an hour and 18 minutes. They booked a second-round clash against third seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos.
Also in action, Marcelo Demoliner and Daniil Medvedev reprised their occasional partnership to take down Daniel Evans and Neal Skupski 6-3, 7-6(4) in an hour and 22 minutes. Demoliner and Medvedev saved six of the seven break points they faced en route to victory against the Brits, who arrived in Madrid after reaching back-to-back ATP Masters 1000 finals in Miami and Monte-Carlo (l. Mektic/Pavic).
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Demoliner and Medvedev await the winner between seventh seeds Wesley Koolhof and Lukasz Kubot and wild cards Petros Tsitsipas and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round.