The 13th seed Juan Martin del Potro won his 89th Masters 1000 match and kept himself in the contention for the ATP World Tour Finals after a commanding 6-2 6-2 victory over qualifier Joao Sousa in 62 minutes. Sousa managed to win the set in their previous 2 meetings but he was outplayed today, taking just 11 points in 8 return games and creating 1 break point, that Juan Martin successfully saved to keep his serve intact.
On the other hand, he pushed his rival to the limits on the second serve, clinching 50% of the return points and breaking him 4 times from 8 chances. The Argentine was off to a flying start, rattling off 16 out of the first 20 points to race into a 4-0 lead and he never looked back, controlling the pace with his serve and forehand.
He closed the opening set with a hold at love and he broke at the start of the second set as well to grab the full control. Sousa lost serve once again in game 5, falling 4-1 behind, and he missed his only break point in the following game that could at least reduce his deficit.
Portuguese saved 2 match points on own serve in game 7 but Juan Martin sealed the deal a few minutes later, converting his 4th match point to safely reach the last 16 and stay in the London chase. Playing in his first match after losing the final in Stockholm to del Potro, Grigor Dimitrov notched his 44th win of the season, defeating Richard Gasquet by 6-4 6-4 in an hour and 22 minutes. Gasquet came out as a winner in the first 5 matches they played, between 2011 and 2013, but Grigor scored his third win in a row over the Frenchman, claiming all 7 sets to reduce the deficit to 5-3.
Bulgarian had good percentages on both the first and second serve, squandering 10 points in 10 service games and never facing a break point. Gasquet had to work much harder in his games, offering Grigor 8 break points and losing serve in the 10th game of both sets to hit an early exit in front of the home crowd.
Dimitrov had 23 winners and 15 unforced errors, taming his shots well, and Richard made 20 mistakes with 14 direct points, which wasn't enough for a more positive result. In addition, Grigor had a slight advantage in both the short and longer points to emerge as a deserved winner.
They both started the encounter in strong fashion, with one easy hold after another, but that couldn't last until the tie break. Grigor opened the 10th game with an amazing forehand cross court winner and he earned the set point with a smash winner.
Gasquet sent the forehand long and the opener went to the side of Bulgarian after 33 minutes. The second set kicked off with 5 easy holds, just like the first, and Richard's serve was under a test in game 6 when he had to play against 4 break chances.
He managed to fend them off and close the game with a beautiful backhand winner after 11 and a half minutes, keeping hopes alive of making a turnaround. Still, he fell 40-0 down in the 10th game and this time he could only save 2 break points, landing a forehand long on Grigor's third match point to end on the losing side despite a valiant effort.
Marin Cilic failed to defend the title in Basel but he bounced back here in Paris, opening his campaign with a 6-4 6-3 victory against the compatriot Borna Coric, whom he beat in all 6 matches, including 2 wins in the last 2 weeks. Unlike in Basel, Borna couldn't send the match into a decider, as Marin saved all 4 break points he faced, and younger Croat also had to play against 4 break points, getting broken once in each set.
Cilic had 13 aces but he struggled on his second serve, taking just 8 out of the 28 points, but Coric didn't take advantage of that and break him at least once (he failed to return 40% of Marin's serves). Better-ranked player was more determined to keep the points on his racquet, finishing with 23 winners and 33 unforced errors, and Borna stood on the even more negative ratio of 10-24, missing equally from both wings to suffer his 25th defeat of the season.
Marin saved a break point in game 3 and he wasted a 40-15 lead to face another 3 break points in game 5, battling to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard. He saved them all with winners, holding after some 12 minutes, and that brought the momentum to his side of the net.
Serving to stay in the set, Borna lost his serve in game 10 after a forehand winner from Marin, who managed to pull out the opener despite facing so many break points early on. The second set was also competitive, with 7 good holds on both sides, and the crucial moment occurred in game 8 when Coric suffered a break to ruin his chances of beating Marin for the first time.
He had a game point but Cilic stayed in the game, converting his 3rd break point when Coric's backhand went long, and he now served for the win. He did that in style, with 4 winners, reaching the 3rd round in Paris for the 5th time and hoping to go at least one step further than in 2016, when he was the semi-finalist.
Second round results: