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Double fault

Algarve tennis ace Rui Machado has a fight on his hands after suffering the worst start to a season ever.

The 28-year-old from Faro has lost his top national ranking to Davis Cup team mate Frederico Gil after failing to win a single competitive match this year, a sequence which has also seen his best-ever ATP No66 placing plummet to No97. Machado’s latest outing in Casablanca again ended prematurely with an embarrassing 6-2, 6-1 first round defeat to Spanish world No544 Sergio Gutierrez-Ferrol and it can only be hoped that he rediscovers his form in Rome this week prior to the start of the Estoril Open at the end of this month.

Meanwhile Gil came through two qualifying rounds at the Masters 1000 Monte Carlo Open where Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray are the favourites to earn a crack at world No35 Mikhail Youzhny.