Richard Gasquet won an all-French battle on Monday evening at the Rolex Paris Masters, prevailing against Benoit Paire 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to set up a second round clash with sixth seed Grigor Dimitrov.
Gasquet looked on course for a straight sets victory when Paire mounted his challenge late in the second, winning four straight games to send the match to a decisive set. He was unable to maintain the momentum in the third, however, as Gasquet broke in the seventh game and served out the win to love after 1 hour and 46 minutes. The former World No. 7 improved to a perfect 5-0 mark against his countryman.
The 31-year-old Gasquet, a three time ATP World Tour Masters 1000 finalist, will take a 5-2 ATP Head to Head record into his next match against Dimitrov, who last week became the fifth qualifier for the ATP Finals. Dimitrov has won their past two meetings, including earlier this year at the Australian Open.
Wild card Julien Benneteau capped off the day’s proceedings in Paris with a 6-4, 6-4 win over fast-rising #NextGenATP star Denis Shapovalov. The 35-year-old Benneteau also defeated the Canadian teenager on home soil in February, at the Open 13 Marseille.
Shapovalov will finish his season next week at the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, while Benneteau goes on to face top Frenchman and 2008 champion for an 11th time overall and second time at this tournament.
Tsonga still holds a chance of qualifying for the ATP Finals, but would need to reclaim the title at this Masters 1000 tournament.
A total of four Frenchmen won in first round action on the first day of main draw action at the Masters 1000 tournament, with Nicolas Mahut and Jeremy Chardy advancing earlier in the day.