Frenchman Richard Gasquet blew away the cobwebs to beat his countryman Marc Gicquel and move through to the second round of the Brisbane International yesterday.
The world No. 24 lost the first set against his compatriot, but stormed back to win 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.
He will play Taylor Dent in the second round following the American’s 7-6 (7/0), 6-2 win over Steve Darcis of Belgium.
Gasquet admitted to nerves ahead of his clash with Gicquel, a player he knows well and who beat him four months ago.
“He knows my game — he’s a countryman so he knows how I play, so that’s bad for me,” Gasquet said. “He played better than me in the first, so I tried to fight and to concentrate on my service games.”
Gasquet and Gicquel are part of a seven-strong contingent of Frenchmen at the Brisbane International, which also includes second seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Fourth seed Robin Soderling of Sweden moved into the second round with a comfortable 6-3, 6-3 win over Sam Querry of the US.
He will take on Frenchman Julien Benneteau in the next round, after Benneteau downed Robbi Ginepri of the US in three sets, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.
In the women’s singles, second seeded Belarussian Victoria Azarenka and Marion Bartoli, the third seed from France, cruised into the second round with impressive straight-set wins.
Azarenka thrashed Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko 6-0, 6-2 and Bartoli was too strong for 16-year-old Australian wild-card Monica Wejnert, winning 6-1, 6-2 in 54 minutes.
Bartoli said later that playing a wild-card was a good way to start the tournament.
“It was not an easy match, she was playing really well and she obviously had nothing to lose,” world No. 17 Bartoli said. “And she’s really talented, so I had to play a good match, a solid match, but I did and it was pretty good to start like that.”
Azarenka will take on Australian-based Slovakian Jarmila Gajdosova in the second round after Gajdosova’s surprise 6-4, 6-2 win over Peng Shuai of China.
Gajdosova, 21, has lived in Melbourne since she was 16 and is a scholarship holder with the Australian Institute of Sport.
The only major upset came when Russia’s Alisa Kleybanova downed sixth seeded Estonian Kaia Kanepi 6-1, 6-4. The players are six places apart on the WTA rankings, Kanepi at 27 and Kleybanova at 33.
In the day’s only other result, Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria beat Romania’s Monica Niculescu 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 6-4 in a match that lasted 3 hours, 7 minutes.