Two weeks after a four-set comeback win over Ugo Humbert at the Australian Open, Richard Gasquet has again come from behind to upset his countryman in the Open Sud de France opening round.
The 35-year-old won two tie-breaks in that Melbourne victory, but had to recover from dropping an opening-set tie-break on Wednesday in a 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-3 victory against the seventh seed.
“I really like to play on this court,” said Gasquet, who was born in nearby Beziers. “With a crowd it’s really special to play here. That’s why I fought a lot in the second set. It was a great match against one of the best players in the world.”
After a trade of breaks in the first, Humbert saved five break points in an eight-deuce game to hold for 6-5. Gasquet then saved a set point on serve at 5-6, before Humbert won the last four points of the tie-break. In set two, the unseeded Frenchman broke in the final game after saving four break points at 3-3.
Gasquet took a decisive lead midway through the third, but needed to save break points in his last two service games—including a 0/40 escape in the final game—to close it out. He’ll next challenge South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon, a 6-2, 6-1 winner over Hugo Gaston on Tuesday.
Adrian Mannarino and Mackenzie McDonald were also first-round winners on Wednesday.
In second-round action later in the day, fifth seed Filip Krajinovic ended the feel-good run of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 6-4, 7-6(2), though the Frenchman can take heart from a battling performance against the World No. 36.
“I think I played a very, very good match,” Krajinovic assessed. “I started really well. I knew Tsonga is always a dangerous player. He’s a great champion and I knew that he was going to serve big.”
The Serb’s decision to receive first paid dividends with an immediate break of serve on the lone break point of the first set. There was more drama in set two, as Tsonga stepped up his aggression and created five unclaimed break points. The Frenchman showed why he reached the heights of World No. 5 with some exquisite touch at the net and well-placed passing shots, but he could not stop his opponent from running away with the tie-break.
“I think he served really big in the second set especially,” Krajinovic continued, “but I stayed in the match. I was playing aggressive and my tactic was working today.”
The 29-year-old is through to the Montpellier quarter-finals for the third time in three appearances. He reached the semis in 2020, losing to Gael Monfils.
Also defeating Frenchmen to advance to the quarter-finals were second seed Roberto Bautista Agut and sixth seed Alexander Bublik. Spain’s Bautista Agut led Gilles Simon, 6-4, 3-2, before a Simon retirement, while Kazakhstan’s Bublik was a 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-2 winner over Pierre-Hugues Herbert. Those two winners will face off on Friday.