ATP Tennis 360

November 11, 2009 4:04 AM

Paris Masters day 3: French awakening

A dream come true. David Guez, the French qualifier n.179 in the world ranking, qualified for the first time in his career to a Masters 1000 second round, thanks to Wawrinka's bad day and his stubbornness (63 64). "Dip", after the second round reached in Lyon two weeks ago, played one of his best match in his career under the careful and appreciating eyes of Arnaud Di Pasquale, the new FFT (the French Federation) high-level male tennis coordinator at the national technical direction. "He does nothing like others. While many players come to Bercy almost on holiday, he played at his best". And the consistency shown by his whipping forehands against the doubles Olympic champion testified it. The big French (1.85 m), surnamed Dip, was able to come back from 3-1 down in the second: character and personality evidently doesn't lack, not only on a tennis court.20091111_DNA044158.jpg

Guez was a football player, and this explains why he arrived so late to the tennis (he's almost 27), like another Frenchman who had some years of good glory, Julien Boutter. When he was 15, he fractured his right elbow curiously brought him to tennis. "I had a bad physiotherapy" explained, "and I lost part of the arm extension. It's an handicap above all when I have to serve, but I've learned to cope with it". And this season rewarded his efforts: six Futures titles, a semi and three quarters at Challenger-level and the last unbelievable month. The outsider now awaits his compatriot and showman Gael Monfils.

The day went good also for the title-holder Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and the courageous Gilles Simon. The eight seed outpowered the Spanish Albert Montanes 61 75, dashing out in a first set completed in such an uncompromising manner to slightly take aback even the thunderous crowd building in the arena. The Spaniard tried valiantly to come back in the second, thank to a series of tricky service games, but it was in vain. Tsonga pounced on two tame second serves to break to 6-5 and serve for the match sealing the success with a flashing forehand down the line.

While Arnaud Clement completely out-witted Feliciano Lopez (63 61) from the baseline, demonstrating how a player can hone is skills in qualifying and beat a better player in the maindraw, and sealed the match with a blistering cross court forehand return of serve right on to the line, Gilles Simon had to suffer more against Ivan Ljubicic (63 36 76). The Paris crowd were in raptures as Simon's emphatic play showed no sign of abating, and the Frenchman clinched the opening set in some style to take it 6-3, thanks to the decisive break to 4-2: Simon dictated the rallies from the baseline and clinched the break with a forehand down the line. The second set was all another show. The Croat, undeterred by losing the opening set, took the ascendancy, breaking to 2-0, while Simon produced a sloppy and lethargic service game and produced some shoddy plays.

At 3-2 in the third, Simon received intensive treatment on his knee at the change-over and it looked like it could well be a ligament problem. But, although with a heavily strapped knee and leaving his seat gingerly, he attempted to battle on and went through a dramatic final set tiebreaker highlighted by crispy volleys and a sublime backhand passing shot giving him the second minibreak and three match point: the first was enough.

Finally, the top-class journeyman Nikolay Davydenko easily defeated Benjamin Becker 62 61: doing so, he mathematically excluded from the World Tour Finals Marin Cilic and Fernando Verdasco, survived to a listless performance against Andreas Seppi from Italy (67 64 64) in a match which saw him strike 43 unforced errors and eight total break in a two-hours and eight minute contest. Also Radek Stepanek was forced to say farewell to London.

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