© JB Autissier/Panoramic

Tomas Berdych defeats Matthias Bachinger in three sets at the Open Sud de France on Tuesday.

Berdych Passes Bachinger Test In Montpellier

Gulbis through in straight sets

Seven years after lifting the trophy, Tomas Berdych made a winning return to the Open Sud de France on Tuesday.

The 33-year-old, who improves to 5-0 in Montpellier, recovered from a set down to beat Matthias Bachinger 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in two hours and 12 minutes. Berdych landed 11 aces throughout the first-round contest and saved seven of 11 break points en route to victory.

“It was a good fight. Not an easy one but I’m happy to get through challenges and that’s what it was today," said Berdych. "I was enjoying it on the court. It’s not ideal but it’s not happening every day, so it’s important to fight it out and that’s what I did today.”

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Berdych has enjoyed an impressive return to action this year, after being forced to end his 2018 ATP Tour season in June, due to a back injury. The former World No. 4 reached his first final in over 19 months, in the opening week of this season, at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open (l. to Bautista Agut) before a straight-sets loss to Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open fourth round.

Berdych will meet eighth seed Benoit Paire for a quarter-final spot. The Frenchman defeated Evgeny Donskoy of Russia 7-5, 6-3 in 73 minutes. Berdych leads Paire 3-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

"I am really happy to win at home in front of my family... It will be a tough match [against Berdych], but [I have] a lot of confidence because I am playing good and I feel good," said Paire.

Seventh seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert booked his place in the second round for the third straight year, dropping just three games to beat Denis Kudla 6-2, 6-1 in 56 minutes. The 27-year-old, who completed the career Grand Slam in doubles alongside Nicolas Mahut at the Australian Open, won 82 per cent of service points (32/39) en route to victory. Herbert will meet Ilya Ivashka or Thomas Fabbiano in the second round.

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Ernests Gulbis fired 14 aces to defeat 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 7-6(5). The 30-year-old Latvian did not face a break point throughout the one-hour, 38-minute contest and will meet fifth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber or Radu Albot in the second round.

French qualifier Antoine Hoang earned his first tour-level victory, cruising past Steve Darcis 6-1, 6-2. The 23-year-old, who made his ATP Tour debut at last month's Tata Open Maharashtra, converted five of six break points and will face countryman Jeremy Chardy for a place in the quarter-finals.

Filip Krajinovic also advanced, defeating Mahut 7-6(7), 6-4 in one hour and 37 minutes. The 26-year-old Serbian saved one set point at 5/6 in the first-set tie-break before booking a second-round clash against second seed David Goffin.

Did You Know?
In 11 of the past 13 years, Berdych has reached the fourth round or better at the Australian Open.

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