Three French players crash out, one advances
Three home players crashed out in their first round matches, but in a pairing of compatriots, Gilles Simon defeated Lucas Pouille 6/3, 6/4. The dismal day for host country commenced with Fernando Verdasco of Spain defeating Jeremy Chardy 6/4; 6/4, followed by Marton Fucsovics of Hungary dismissing Benoit Paire 6/4; 6/4 and ending with Mikhail Kukukshin of Russia outlasting Pierre-Hugues Herbert 3/6; 6/3; 7/5. It was a dismal outing for Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas who lost 3/6; 3/6 to Russia’s Damiil Dzumhur.
The 27-year old Herbert, a top ranked doubles player won the first set by 6 games to 3. In the opening game of the second set, Kukukshin struggled through a 7-minute stretch before holding. It was a fateful game as he broke Herbert and held for a 3-0 lead. Although the Frenchman won the fourth game, the set flowed routinely with serve to end 6-3.
In the decider, Herbert shot ahead 2-1 and took Kukukshin’s serve to lead 3-1. However a reverse of breaks gave the Russian the fifth game and he saved a break point before taking the sixth game to level 3-all. Although he had three game points at 40-15; Kukukshin was taken to deuce before holding serve. Herbert survived two break points before winning the seventh game.
The two players held their service games to reach 5-all. In the eleventh game, Herbert faced three break points at 30-40, saved one of them but surrendered the break. Serving for the match, Kukukshin reached match point at 40-30 and sealed the victory after 2 hours and 17 minutes. The 30-year old from Volgograd won their first ever career match-up.
Marton Fucsovics won the first set 6/4. Paire lost his serve to concede a break in the third game of second set and his opponent consolidated to 3-1. An exchange of breaks led to 4-2 but Paire held to reduce the gap. Fucsovics won four straight points to extend the lead to 5-3. The Frenchman hammered an ace to take the ninth game but Fucsovics dropped only one point on serve to take the second set 6/4 after one hour and 17 minutes. It was their third career meeting, all in 2018. Herbert had won in Umag Croatia while Fucsovics prevailed in Pune India.
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