French duo bid early farewell at Cincinnati Masters

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By Simon Evans

MASON, Ohio (Reuters) - France's Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon suffered early exits from the Cincinnati Masters on Tuesday.

American James Blake, a former world number four, crashed out of the tournament in just 45 minutes but his compatriot Mardy Fish battled into the second round.

Fish produced a spirited display to defeat Simon 7-6 7-5 and set up a match with Spanish eighth-seed Fernando Verdasco.

Monfils, the 16th seed, fell to Colombian qualifier Alejandro Falla 6-3 6-4 while Blake's slide down the rankings continued with a 6-3 6-0 loss to Russia's Denis Istomin.

The good news for France came with Richard Gasquet defeating 12th seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny 2-6 6-4 6-1.

Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych, who pushed Roger Federer all the way in his quarter-final loss to the Swiss player in Toronto last week, begins his campaign against Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu later on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Frank Pingue)