Huesler Holds Off Van Assche, Sets Rune Rematch In Montpellier
Marc-Andrea Huesler maintained his good start to the year Tuesday with first-round victory at the Open Sud de France – Montpellier, but not before he was given a thorough test by emerging #NextGenATP Frenchman Luca Van Assche.
The Swiss lefty arrived at the ATP 250 event off the back of notching victories for Switzerland against Germany’s Oscar Otte and Alexander Zverev in the weekend’s Davis Cup Qualifiers. Huesler was made to dig deep by the 18-year-old World No. 145 Van Assche in southern France, however, where he fended off five of six break points in his 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win.
“Obviously he’s very young. He’s 18, [but] already Top 150, so he’s a great player” said Huesler in his on-court interview after booking a second-round clash against top seed Holger Rune. "I saw that in the second set especially. He had a great phase there, where he wasn’t missing and [was] making my life really difficult. I’m very happy that I was able to come through this round.”
The World No. 49 Huesler's serve pulled him through tough moments against an opponent playing just his third tour-level match. The 26-year-old fired 13 aces and won 86 per cent (38/44) of points behind his first delivery to move to 6-2 for the 2023 season.
“It’s always different, every tournament starts from scratch,” said Huesler, when asked whether his Davis Cup heroics had boosted his confidence ahead of the Van Assche clash. “Today I felt the pressure was a bit more on my side because obviously I want to win, I want to start off the year well indoors as well. I’m really happy I got it done.”
Huesler carries a 2-0 ATP Head2Head series lead into his clash with Rune in Montpellier. Both the pair's previous meetings came in 2022, when Huesler clinched straight-sets victories in Bastad and then in the Sofia championship match to claim his maiden tour-level crown.
Like Huesler, Maxime Cressy put his big serve to good use on Tuesday to seal a second-round berth. The American sent down 11 aces en route to defeating Swiss qualifier Antoine Bellier 6-3, 6-2 for his second tour-level win of the season. Cressy, who was born in France, is making his tournament debut in Montpellier, where he next faces seventh seed Emil Ruusuvuori or Mikael Ymer.
Lorenzo Sonego lifted his third ATP Tour title on French indoor hard courts last September in Metz. The Italian gave a stark early reminder of his indoor prowess in Tuesday’s evening session, when he took out eighth seed and home favourite Benjamin Bonzi 6-3, 6-4. His next challenger in Montpellier will be Filip Krajinovic, who earlier held off Aslan Karatsev 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-2.
Quentin Halys and Marton Fucsovics also advanced on Tuesday but both needed three sets to see off home qualifiers. World No. 70 Halys downed ATP Tour debutant Clement Chidekh 7-5, 2-6, 7-5, while Fucsovics World No. 69 defeated Geoffrey Blancaneaux 7-5, 5-7, 6-0 to set a second-round clash with second seed Jannik Sinner.
In the final match of the day at the Sud de France Arena, Arthur Rinderknech overcame a spirited display from #NextGenATP Italian Luca Nardi. The World No. 68 Rinderknech prevailed 6-4, 6-4 on his main draw debut in Montpellier to set a second round showdown with third seed Borna Coric.