VALENCIA, Spain -- Spanish star Fernando Verdasco halted a four-match losing streak with a straight-set victory Monday at the $1.87 million Valencia Open.
The third-seeded Verdasco vaulted past American qualifier Michael Russell 6-4, 6-1 on the indoor hardcourts at the City of Arts and Sciences. The 2004 Valencia titlist Verdasco hadn't won a match since beating fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in five sets in the fourth round at the U.S. Open in September.
Up next for the world No. 7 Verdasco will be former top-10 Frenchman Gilles Simon.
In other opening-round play, Simon subdued Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3, 6-3, Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka topped Italian Andreas Seppi 7-6 (7-2), 7-5 and Russian qualifier Teymuraz Gabashvili grounded French veteran Arnaud Clement 6-4, 6-2.
The top seed this week is British star Andy Murray, who bested Russian Mikhail Youzhny in last year's Valencia finale. The Australian Open runner-up Murray will meet Spain's Feliciano Lopez here on Tuesday.
Second-seeded French Open runner-up Robin Soderling will also take to the courts for a first-round match on Tuesday, as the Swedish slugger will meet Spain's Albert Montanes.
Tuesday matches will also come for a fourth-seeded Ferrer and sixth-seeded Russian star Nikolay Davydenko.