Zverev Beats Pouille, Wins Patience Game

Mischa Zverev played a game of patience on a sun-kissed Tuesday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters to advance to the third round.

Clever service placement and a willingness to attack the net helped the German to a 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(3) victory over seventh-seeded Frenchman Lucas Pouille in two hours and five minutes. It is the first time Zverev has won back-to-back matches in 2018 (6-10 record).

Largely everything Pouille hit came off in the first set, but it wasn’t without tension as he saved break points in three service games. However, his confidence and timing evaporated in the 26-minute second set, which saw Zverev take a 5-0 lead.

Zverev was left frustrated at 2-3, 30/40 in the decider when he struck a mis-timed backhand long, but he immediately worked his way back into the pair’s first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting and in the tie-break took a 4/1 lead that proved too big for Pouille to claw back.

Last year at this historic event, World No. 11 Pouille reached his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final (also 2016 Internazionali BNL d’Italia).

“I was giving him opportunities to break me,” said Pouille. “My level of game was not good. In the second set, he played better and I was continuing to have a poor level of game. After, he was the most aggressive player… My game was not at a good level from the beginning to the end. I didn’t feel tense. I think it’s just the kind of match you need to forget and move on to something else.”

In another result at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, sixth-seeded Belgian David Goffin, who sustained a freak injury to his left eye whilst playing at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in February, continued his rehabilitation with a confidence-boosting 7-6(4), 7-5 victory over Greek qualifier Stefanos Tsitsipas in two hours and two minutes.

Goffin, who reached last year’s semi-finals (l. to Nadal), has been competing with a special contact lens in his left eye this week and now plays a Spaniard – No. 11 seed Roberto Bautista Agut or Feliciano Lopez.

Lopez led 3-1 in the deciding set, but endured a tense finale against Benoit Paire of France, converting his fifth match point chance to complete a 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-4 victory over two hours and 22 minutes.

Richard Gasquet moved to within two match wins of becoming the first Frenchman with 500 victories in the Open Era (since April 1968) mid-afternoon. The 2005 Monte-Carlo semi-finalist beat compatriot Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 7-6(5) in one hour and 52 minutes for a second-round meeting against Diego Schwartzman, who recovered from a slow start to beat fellow Argentine Guido Pella 0-6, 6-2, 6-3.

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