Gasquet battles into Paris Masters second round

Paris: Richard Gasquet scraped past French compatriot Nicolas Mahut 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 to reach the second round of the Paris Masters on a good day for the local favourites.

The world number 28, bidding for a place in the French team for next month`s Davis Cup final against Serbia in Belgrade, prevailed after almost 2-1/2 hours, winning the final set tiebreak 9-7.

Gasquet will face a much tougher test in the second round when he takes on world number two Roger Federer, who was granted a first-round bye.

Michael Llodra also made his case to France captain Guy Forget by thrashing Italian Potito Starace 6-4, 6-1.

Arnaud Clement, who won his doubles match in France`s 5-0 demolition of Argentina in the Davis Cup semi-final, overcame a barrage of aces to see off Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-7, 7-6, 6-3.

In an almost empty Bercy sports hall, Gasquet bagged the opening set as Mahut, who was beaten 70-68 in the fifth set by American John Isner in the longest ever tennis match at Wimbledon, netted a routine volley.

Mahut hit back in the second set but Gasquet saved his best for the deciding tiebreak, bagging a tough win as his opponent sent another volley into the net.

"It was tough and I am happy to be through," Gasquet said courtside. "I am quite relieved.”

"Against Federer, I will have nothing to lose. He is the clear favourite. I hope to play a great match and have fun, it`s the most important thing for me."

Bureau Report