The Paris Masters got underway a few days after the French government locked the country down forcing the organisers to refund the 1000 tickets to fans who had hoped to attend the penultimate event on this year’s tour.
I would say this level of tennis is definitely good for my confidence. I felt that the match has been (a) really high level Marin Cilic
Following the success of Vienna last week when a ‘Lucky Loser’ caught the eye by storming through the field only to fall in the final, the first day’s results in the French capital threw up a few intriguing winners who would like to emulate that run.
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, a Spanish qualifier, beat the 11th seeded Karen Khachanov, a former Paris champion, 6-3 2-6 6-2; ‘Lucky Loser’ Radu Albot from Moldovia, squeezed past Poland’s Hubert Hurjacz 7-5 6-7(5) 6-4; the French wild card Benjamin Bonzi made light work of the Argentine ‘Lucky Loser’ Federico Coria 6-2 6-1; American qualifier Maros Giron recovered to defeat Spain’s Ramos-Vinolas 6-3 4-6 6-1; and finally on the unlikely winners front on day one, Frenchman Corentin Moutet, another qualifier, edged past Italian ‘Lucky Loser’ 3-6 7-6(2) 6-2.
Meanwhile Croatian Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion, claimed an impressive win over Canadian youngster Felix Auger-Aliassime seeded 14, following a curious match 6-0 3-6 6-3.
“I was not finding my best form in this season, last season, as well, comparing to (the) last few years before that,” said 32-year-old Cilic, a former world number three who has seen his ranking slip to 43.
“I would say this level of tennis is definitely good for my confidence. I felt that the match has been (a) really high level.”
Another veteran of the game, 39-year-old Feliciano Lopez set up a second-round clash with his Spanish compatriot, the top seed Rafael Nadal— back in Paris just weeks after lifting a record-extending 13th French Open title— by beating Serbian Filip Krajinovic 7-6(11) 6-1.
Lopez, who doubles up as Tournament Director in Madrid, also warned that the tour would not be returning to any form of normality for many months.
“We have to be aware of the situation that the world is living (in) and how everyone is facing these challenging times around the world,” Lopez said.
“For now, I don’t see any hope on prize money. I think it will stay the same for a while.”
Pablo Carreno Busta was another Spaniard to progress, seeing off home wildcard Hugo Gaston 6-3 6-2 while Frenchman Ugo Humbert beat in-form Norwegian Casper Ruud 4-6 6-2 7-6(1) and will face second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas on Tuesday. In addition US Open quarter-finalist Alex de Minaur and Croatian 15th seed Borna Coric also progressed through to the second round.