Gael Monfils returned to action with a victory yesterday at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, after recovering from the personal problems that kept him out of this year's Wimbledon Championships.

The Frenchman, who announced he would be missing the tournament at SW19 with under a fortnight left until the start, defeated his countryman Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-6 6-4 to reach the second round of the clay court tournament.

He managed to fire 16 aces on his way to setting up a contest with the sixth-seeded German Florian Mayer.

It was at the end of May that the former French number one finally looked like delivering on the early promise he showed in his career, as he defeated the fifth-seeded Czech Thomas Berdych in the first round, and also came back from a set down to beat the talented Latvian Ernests Gulbis.

His run came to an end in a five set defeat to the Spaniard Tommy Robredo in the third round, but his ranking has since improved from being outside the top 100 back to number 62, though he is still a long way off his previous achievements of being in the top ten.

“It was really difficult because it was really fast,” said Monfils to 

“I didn’t expect clay like this. This is very fast, very dry, slippery, a bit windy, so it wasn’t easy conditions today. I needed to adapt myself. It was tough.”

Other notable results yesterday were Mayer's three set win over his fellow German Anreas Beck and Russian Nikolay Davydenko, a two time semi-finalist, beating Daniel Munoz-De La Nava in three sets.

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