The 4th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime has experienced for the first time the advantages of skipping the opening match at ATP tournaments, defeating John Millman 7-6, 7-5 in an hour and 48 minutes, celebrating the 18th win in 2019.
A teenager knows how to play well in this French town, winning back-to-back titles at Open Sopra Steria de Lyon Challenger in the previous two years and making a good start towards the first ATP title. Serving at 74%, Auger-Aliassime fired ten aces and lost 17 points in 12 service games, fending off all five break points to keep the pressure on John who repelled seven out of eight break points to stay competitive all the time.
The Aussie defended six break chances in the last three games of the opening set to reach the tie break that Felix won 7-3 following a strong forehand attack after 55 minutes. The Canadian stayed unbroken at 2-2 in the second set following three break points he faced, earning a late break at 6-5 to seal the deal and beat both Millman and darkness to move into the last eight.
The struggling American Steve Johnson is through to the second quarter-final of the season, ousting the 7th seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert 7-6, 5-7, 6-1 in two hours and 24 minutes. Steve served well and lost serve only twice, once in the opener before pulling it back immediately and taking the breaker 8-6.
Herbert responded with a late break in set number two to force a decider where Steve raced towards the finish line with three breaks of serve. An in-form Pablo Cuevas toppled the 8th seed Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 22 minutes for the 16th win in 2019.
The Uruguayan dropped 14 points in ten service games, fending off the only break point he faced and earning one break in each set to move into the second round. Benoit Paire had to work hard to defeat Mackenzie McDonald 3-6, 7-6, 6-1 in two hours, staying focused in the closing stages of the second set and needing just 25 minutes to secure the decider and make a winning start.
In the most entertaining encounter of the day, Corentin Moutet ousted the fellow youngster Reilly Opelka 6-3, 2-6, 7-6, saving two match points in the deciding tie break after a questionable call that ruined Opelka's rhythm and raised more interests in installing some reliable system to check the balls on the slowest surface.
The American most probably hit a service winner at 6-4 in the breaker but the umpire overruled the court, allowing Moutet to stay in contention and move over the top after a double fault from Opelka at 10-11.