World no. 69 Benoit Paire is through to the first ATP semi-final since Sydney 2018 thanks to a convincing 6-1, 6-3 triumph over Jaume Munar in just 58 minutes! The young Spaniard defeated Alexander Zverev last night but he had nothing in the tank today, taking only 14 points on the return and struggling to find the pace behind the initial shot, losing serve four times from eight chances offered to Paire.
Despite serving at only 53%, Benoit was focused from start to finish, outplaying the young opponent in every segment ad wrapping up the win in less than hour to save the energy for the next clash against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Paire broke at 15 with a return winner in the opening game of the match to set the tone for the rest of the encounter, earning another break in game three and closing the opener in just over 20 minutes following the third break of serve after forcing an error from Munar.
The Spaniard finally made a solid hold at the start of the second set although that didn't last for long, with Paire firing a forehand winner that gave him a break for a 3-1 lead. The Frenchman saved two break points in the next game to cement the advantage, wasting a match point on the return at 5-2 before sealing the deal with a service winner in the ninth game to race into the next round.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is looking very strong in 2019 after that nasty knee injury, advancing into the third semi-final thanks to a 6-3, 6-2 victory against a qualifier Lorenzo Sonego in 66 minutes. Jo dropped only seven points behind the initial shot and the Italian could have never followed that pace, losing 40% of the points in his games and getting broken three times from six chances give to Tsonga.
Hitting the zone right from the start, the more experienced player controlled the pace in his games and secured an early break in game two after a nice volley. Serving for the set at 5-3, the Frenchman landed four winners to seal the deal in style, continuing in the same rhythm in set number two where he lost two points in four service games.
Unable to impose his shots and move the rival from the comfort zone, Sonego suffered a break in game five and another one when his forehand landed long at 2-4. Serving for the win, Jo held at love and moved into the next round with a forehand down the line winner, looking strong to lift the second title of the season.
The 4th seed Gilles Simon toppled Taro Daniel 6-4, 7-5 in two hours and 34 minutes, fending off 12 out of 15 break points and scoring five breaks to cross the finish line in straight sets. The Japanese drew first blood in the opening game after converting the seventh break point but he lost the ground after that, dropping serve in games four and ten to hand the opener to Gilles.
From 3-1 down in set number two, Simon bounced back and closed the encounter with a late break in game 12 to join his compatriots in the semis. The defending champion Pablo Andujar had a day off, with Jiri Vesely giving him a walkover due to an injury.