France’s Richard Gasquet celebrates after defeating Spain’s Fernando Verdasco during their ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indoor Tournament at the Bercy Palais-Omnisport (POPB) in Paris, yesterday.
PARIS: France’s Richard Gasquet needed five match points to beat Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3 in the second round of the Paris Masters yesterday and boost his hopes of qualifying for the end of season World Tour Finals.
The 27-year-old Frenchman and Verdasco traded blows for 2hrs 40mins, in front of a raucous Parisian crowd, before Gasquet finally made it through to the third round where he could meet compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who is also in the hunt to make the World Tour Finals.
Gasquet wasted two match points at 6-5 up in the second set before Verdasco took it to a final set by edging the tie-break 8-6.
However the right-hander from Beziers forced a crucial break in the decider to go 4-3 up and this time he kept his nerve to set up a last-16 tie against either Tsonga or Kei Nishikori of Japan.
The win for Gasquet, who is clinging to the eighth and final place for London which is available as Andy Murray is injured, keeps the pressure on Tsonga who is one place behind him in the World Tour rankings.
Earlier Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov continued his rich vein of form as he marched into the second round with a three-set win over French veteran Michael Llodra.
The lanky 22-year-old lost the opening set in a tie-break before taking control and setting up a meeting against Italian 16th seed Fabio Fognini with a 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-3.
Llodra’s compatriot Nicolas Mahut fared better as he fired down eight aces to overwhelm Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov 7-6 (8/6), 6-1.
Mahut, who played the longest match in history against American John Isner at Wimbledon 2010, won 93 per cent of his first serve points and broke the spirit of his opponent in the crucial opening set tie-break.
The 1.90m (6ft 3in), 25-year-old never dropped his serve while breaking his opponent three times in a one-sided finale to the match.
He faces 15th seeded compatriot Gilles Simon in an all-French second round tie, a player he met recently.
Spaniard Marcel Granollers will face compatriot and world number one Rafael Nadal today after he breezed past Russian Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 6-4.
Another Spaniard Pablo Andujar took full advantage of an injury suffered by Gael Monfils on the eve of his first round match against Canadian Vasek Pospisil.
The ‘lucky loser’ outlasted the world number 32, although he needed five match points to close out the match, prevailing 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. afp