Safe start for Sandgren

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Wellington

Defending champion Tennys Sandgren cruised through to the second round of the ATP Auckland Classic on Monday, but there will be no repeat of last year’s final after Cameron Norrie made an early exit. Sandgren, unseeded this year, beat doubles specialist and local hope Michael Venus 6-4, 6-3, serving up 15 aces along the way. It put him through to a second round match-up with fellow American and tournament fourth seed John Isner, who arrived in New Zealand after a disappointing week at the ATP Cup in Perth where he lost all three matches to Casper Ruud, Daniil Medvedev and Fabio Fognini. “I’ve got to put that behind me, hope to play well here and of course at the Australian Open,” said Isner who, like Sandgren, won his first ATP title in Auckland. “Throughout my career I’ve come here a lot, I’ve played some great tennis here and I’m looking forward to hopefully playing some good tennis again.” Norrie, ranked 16 places ahead of Sandgren at 52, stayed with qualifier Thiago Monterio until the tie-break in the first set before he started to run out of steam with the Brazilian winning 7-6 (7/3), 6-2. Tournament fifth seed Benoit Paire did not fail to entertain as he beat last year’s ATP newcomer of the year, Jannik Sinner of Italy. —APP