Gasquet Survives Winston-Salem Opener

Richard Gasquet (photo: Winston-Salem Open)

WINSTON-SALEM, August 23, 2016

The first round concluded and the second round commenced at the ATP 250 Winston-Salem Open on Monday, highlighted by the tournament debut of number one seed Richard Gasquet. The 30-year-old Frenchman fought past Daniel Evans 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Gasquet sent down six aces, saved eigth of the 10 break points he faced, converting three of his own to prevail in two hours and 28 minutes.

“It was a tough match for me,” said Gasquet, who had been sidelined for five weeks with a back injury and made his return last week in Cincinnati. “I think physically I’m not in my best shape. But I know I’m still tough to beat. It’s important for me to do this kind of match. Everything is possible in this draw.”

Gasquet will next take on fellow Frenchman Stephane Robert. The 36-year-old overcame Federico Delbonis 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. Robert closed the match out in two hours and 21 minutes.

Andrey Kuznetsov also advanced to the third round, as Mikhail Youzhny was forced to retire with a harmstring strain before the encounter started.

In a first round match between two US-American NextGen starts, Taylor Fritz defeated Frances Tiafoe 6-1, 6-4. The 18-year-old from California saved the only break point he faced, capitalizing on three of his own to advance in 63 minutes.

“I thought I played a really great match from start to finish,” Fritz said. “I didn’t let it get too nervy, which I might have been afraid of closing the match out against him because I never beat him before and I really wanted to so badly. I’m glad with how everything went.”

Fritz gained his first victory over Tiafoe in the pair’s sixth meeting, their second on tour level.

“When I played him in Indian Wells I was thinking about it too much,” he said. “I wanted it way too bad and that just caused me to play a really tight and nervy match. This time I came out with no expectations, not feeling like I should win, not feeling entitled at all to winning the match, and I think that’s what allowed me to play loose and play free and play a good match.”

Fritz will next play 15th seed Fernando Verdasco. The US-American teenager will be joined by fellow NextGen player Kyle Edmund. The 21-year-old Brit knocked out Rajeev Ram, winning 7-5, 7-6. Edmund withstood 13 aces and won 93 of the total 178 points played.

19-year-old Dutchman Tim van Rijthoven celebrated his main draw debut on the ATP World Tour in a first round encounter with Jiri Vesely as a lucky loser. In a tough battle, it was the Czech emerging victorious 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 after two hours and five minutes. Next up for Vesely is fifth favourite Kevin Anderson.