Canada made a good start to their World Championship title defence ©WCF

Canada opened their World Men's Curling Championships title defence with a 7-6 win over Russia in Las Vegas today.

The team, skippered by Brad Gushue, scored three points in the opening end at the Orleans Arena but were forced to battle hard to maintain their lead.

Russia briefly levelled the match at 6-6 before Canada claimed the crucial point for a 7-6 win.

“It’s nice to get the win, it wasn’t a great performance by any of us," said Gushue afterwards. 

"The ice was tricky and we spent most of the game just trying to figure it out. 

"We didn’t have a good read of the ice and were putting the broom in the wrong spots on a lot of the shots. 

"So, to get the deuce [in the eighth end] put us back in control of the game and it felt like we were going to win after we made that.”

Defending silver medallists Sweden were also forced to battle hard before beating Germany 6-5.

Skip Niklas Edin scored what proved to be the winning point with a nose-hit in the 10th and final end.

China edged Switzerland by the same scoreline while South Korea enjoyed a more comfortable 7-4 win over The Netherlands.

Hosts United States, the Olympic champions, have not yet played.

They are being represented at these Championships by a team skipped by Greg Persinger and not the rink led by John Shuster which won the gold medal at Pyeongchang 2018.

The top six teams will qualify for the play-off stage - rather than four which was the case previously - after the round-robin phase is completed on Sunday (April 6).

The qualification games and semi-finals will take place on April 7 and the medal games will be on April 8.