Monfils and Blake through to second round at Moselle Open in Metz

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James Blake and three French players,  Gaël Monfils, Benoit Paire, and Vincent Millot progressed into the second round of Moselle Open in Metz. None of their opponents extended the match into three sets.

Seventh seed French Monfils, who conquered Metz in 2009, is staying in competition at this year’s Moselle Open. He and Olivier Rochus of Belgium were tied at 3-3 in their head-to-head series prior to meeting in the first round of the tournament. Experienced Belgian snatched a break in the first game, but Monfils bounced back immediately. Nothing extraordinary happened in following games until Monfils broke his opponent in the crucial eighth game. There was no way back for Rochus as the French produced a game to love to tuck away the opener. In the second set 100th-ranked Belgian was unable to weather the storm of his rival’s break points. Monfils ultimately converted two of them to secure his second round ticket with 6-3, 6-2 after a bit more than one hour of play.

Another French-Belgian encounter on hard courts of Metz: Benoit Paire versus Xavier Malisse. Although the players are separated merely by seven places on ATP rankings, their first round clash was rather one-sided. 23-years old Paire had to defend a break point before grabbing two of Malisse’s serves and taking a set to love lead. The players shared a break each in the beginning of the following set. Eventually, Paire obtained another break advantage and this time he did not let go of it. Malisse fought until the end, he fended off the first match ball and forced a deuce at 5-4, but it was all over for him some moments later. The clash lasted  less than an hour and ended with 6-1, 6-4 in Paire’s favor.

Former No. 4 American Blake has also entered the second round. 20-year-old domestic player Albano Olivetti could not settle into the first set as Blake broke him twice, whilst only giving away two points on his serve. The set two was more balanced. After struggling at its start Olivetti found his rhythm, achieved a re-break and made it to the tiebreaker. He was on a back foot for the most of it so the veteran American took advantage of his first match point to progress with 6-2, 7-6 (4).

Another French player, 222nd-ranked Vincent Millot, surprised World No. 82 Dutch Igor Sijsling: 6-4, 6-4.

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