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Corentin Moutet, No. 80 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, moves into the second round at the Murray River Open.

Moutet Masters Tiafoe Test At Murray River Open

Frenchman struck 32 winners against Tiafoe

#NextGenATP Frenchman Corentin Moutet made a statement start to the year after coming back from a set down against Frances Tiafoe to win 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Monday at the Murray River Open.

The 21-year-old came into the match looking to once again make waves in his season-opening event. Last year, Moutet posted his career-best result as he stormed into the final at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open as a qualifier, finishing runner-up to Andrey Rublev.

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Moutet had to overcome a sluggish start in Melbourne as he found his rhythm against 2019 Australian Open quarter-finalist Tiafoe, No. 62 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. But once he settled into the match the lefty unleashed his speed around the court, forcing Tiafoe to hit an extra ball after what would normally be a clean winner.

The Frenchman outlasted Tiafoe in the third set to fight off break points and take a 3-1 lead, but he had trouble keeping him contained as Tiafoe made a late effort to get back on serve at 4-4. But Moutet held off Tiafoe and sealed his spot in the second round of the Murray River Open after two hours and seven minutes.

"It was so nice to play a match,” Moutet said afterwards. “It was a long time since I’ve played a match, especially in front of people. It wasn’t an easy one, because I had to play against a tough opponent who is a great player. A tough match, but definitely a lot of pleasure.”

Moutet will await the winner between No. 12 seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Australian wild card Blake Mott.

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Mackenzie McDonald, No. 194 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, also advanced after edging past No. 14-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet in straight sets. McDonald served up eight aces against the former World No. 7 en route to a 7-6(2), 7-5 victory.

The American will play Alex Bolt, as the former No. 57 continues to work his way back to fitness after suffering a hamstring injury in 2019.

“I’ve been working hard, [had] a lot of preparation,” McDonald said. “I’m really excited to be playing matches again. I haven’t had many opportunities to come back after my injury, so I just want to keep playing good tennis and get back to where I belong.”

No. 15 seed Tommy Paul also advanced to the second round with a victory over Cameron Norrie, needing two hours and 21 minutes to come back from a set down against the Brit, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3.