Tennis: France rely on singles strength at new ATP Cup, Japan sweep Uruguay while Argentina need doubles win

France's Gael Monfils in action against Chile's Cristian Garin during day two of the ATP Cup in Brisbane on Jan 4, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BRISBANE (AP) - Gael Monfils secured France's first victory at the ATP Cup, rallying from a break down in the second set and saving three break points as he served for the match in a 6-3, 7-5 win over Cristian Garin.

Benoite Paire opened their Group A encounter against Chile with a 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-3 win over Nicolas Jarry and Monfils clinched the best-of-three encounter ahead of the doubles on Saturday (Jan 4) in Brisbane.

Jarry and Garin combined to win the doubles for Chile over Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

Novak Djokovic's Serbia take on Kevin Anderson's South Africans in the night Group A match at Brisbane's Pat Rafter Arena.

Japan clinched their opening Group B match with straight-sets singles wins over Uruguay in Perth.

Go Soeda beat Martin Cuevas 6-1, 6-3 and Yoshihito Nishioka enjoyed a 6-0, 6-1 thrashing of Pablo Cuevas. The team also won the doubles in straight sets.

Argentina needed a win in the doubles to edge out Poland 2-1 in the Group E match in Sydney. Guido Pella gave Argentina a lead with a 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 win over Kamil Majchrzak, before Hubert Hurkacz levelled for Poland with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Diego Schwartzman.

Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni beat Hurkacz and Lukasz Kubot 6-2, 6-4 to secure Argentina's win.

The new 24-team men's tournament started on Friday in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. The six group winners and two best runners-up will qualify for the knockout phase in Sydney, which will conclude with the final on Jan 12, leaving players time to fine-tune for the Australian Open in Melbourne.

The 33-year-old Monfils had a minor injury in the off-season and was content with his form against Garin, despite a lapse in the second set.

He had to save three break points while serving for the match at 6-5, and then converted his first match point when the Chilean sent a forehand volley out.

Monfils and Paire hugged and high-fived in the team zone beside the court to celebrate. Monfils said he was motivated because he did not want to let down Gilles Simon, who is nominated as a player-captain for France.

"It was great today. I think (Garin) had a good period in the second set, like, actually a strong period. It shook me a little bit but I think slowly I got back in shape," Monfils said. "I'm happy to be well, but my goal is to have my peak for the Aussie Open, so I'm still working quite hard on it, even when we play matches."

The 35-year-old Simon, who finished last year ranked No. 55, is not sure if he is ready yet for coaching, so being closer to the action at courtside during the ATP Cup was better than being in the stands.

"It's the first time. Maybe the last time, also, so, I never know," he said. "But I just, I just like the team. It's very nice atmosphere all together since we are here and they have like strong personalities and very different personalities also. But it's, yeah, it's a nice experience."

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