Second seed Tomas Berdych defeated Benoit Paire of France 6-1, 7-6 (8/6) in a first-round match in hot and humid conditions at the Japan Open yesterday.
Berdych used a powerful serve and strong play from the baseline to win in 1 hour, 44 minutes under a blazing sun at Ariake Colosseum.
The Czech player raced to a 5-0 lead in the first set, breaking Paire in the second and fourth games. Paire finally held serve to make it 5-1, but Berdych closed out the set in the next game on serve at love.
The second set was on serve until the fifth game, when Berdych broke Paire to go 3-2 up. It seemed Berdych would roll to the win, but in the 10th game Paire battled back, ripping a backhand winner to level at 5-5.
Both players then held serve to send it to a tiebreaker, where Berdych prevailed 8-6 after saving a set point when he was 6-5 down.
“I should have finished it when I was serving at 5-4 in the second set, but then I lost my serve and was even down set point in the tiebreak,” Berdych said.
Paire, ranked 52nd, made some nice passing shots in the second set, but was ultimately hampered by a high number of unforced errors in the loss.
In earlier action, seventh seed Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland was made to work before ousting Japanese wild-card Hiroki Moriya 7-5, 4-6, 6-4. The match was even in the final set until Wawrinka broke Moriya to move ahead 4-3.
Also yesterday, Lukas Lacko of Slovakia scored a 6-0, 6-2 win over Alberto Ramos of Spain, while Serbia’s Viktor Troicki defeated Robin Haase of the Netherlands 6-2, 6-3.