Julien Benneteau was among three French winners in the opening round of the Paris Masters on Monday, downing Victor Troicki of Serbia 6-4, 7-5 to set up a match against fellow countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Benneteau broke twice in each set, despite Troicki serving 14 aces.
The other local winners were Gilles Simon and Benoit Paire. Simon beat 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 7-5, 6-1, while Paire defeated Pablo Andujar of Spain 6-3, 6-4.
Tsonga, seeded sixth and the 2008 champion, is among the favorites for the event.
Novak Djokovic might withdraw to ensure he is fit for the World Tour Finals in London next week. The Serb, who has clinched the year-end world No. 1 ranking, canceled a meet-and-greet session with fans on Monday as he was not “feeling well.”
The tournament is already without defending champion Roger Federer, who pulled out on Sunday to rest before the season-ending event.
US Open winner Andy Murray, who recently lost the Shanghai Masters final to Djokovic, plays today and is feeling fit.
“I had a full week of rest after Shanghai, which I needed,” Murray said. “I’ve had a pretty decent preparation for the tournament, which is good. It doesn’t make sense to come and save energy. Having a full week of rest at this stage of the season is something that in the past I hadn’t really had, so I feel so much fresher coming into Paris than I had done the last few years. I’ll try to play my best this week and then see what happens in London. I feel better at this stage of the year compared with last year.”
In other first-round action, Andrea Seppi twice came back from the brink of defeat to beat Martin Klizan of Slovakia 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7/5).
The Italian was 5-2 down in the final set and trailed by the same score in the tiebreaker. He next plays 2005 winner Tomas Berdych.
Carlos Berlocq beat Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 7-6 (7/2), 6-2. The Argentine replaced Rafael Nadal, who withdrew because of an ongoing left-knee injury.
Kevin Anderson, Jerzy Janowicz, Alejandro Falla, Marcel Granollers and Albert Ramos also made it through to the second round.
TOMIC BRAWL BROKEN UP
Police were called to break up a fight between Australia’s struggling No. 1 tennis hope Bernard Tomic and a male friend after a night of partying, reports said yesterday.
Queensland State police said they attended a disturbance at Surfers Paradise, on the Gold Coast, early on Monday, but no arrests were made or charges laid.
“We spoke to a couple of males and that was it,” a police spokesman said.
According to the Gold Coast Bulletin, police “separated the two men, before the tennis ace turned on officers.”
“He reminded police of ‘who he was’ and accused officers of running a hate campaign against him,” the newspaper said, citing police sources.
Tomic, who has not won a match since the second round in Bangkok more than a month ago, is no stranger to controversy, with a case related to alleged traffic offenses due before a court in the coming days.
Those charges stem from an incident in January when he was fined twice in the space of an hour as he drove his orange BMW M3. Police allege he refused to stop when asked to pull over a third time.
The player has also sparked controversy on the court, with John McEnroe accusing him of “tanking” in his US Open loss to Andy Roddick in late August.
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