Thiem Leads London Contenders Tsitsipas, Fognini Into Beijing Second Round
Tsitsipas, Monfils made to work hard
Dominic Thiem recorded his first victory over Richard Gasquet on Tuesday at the China Open to step up his bid for a place at the Nitto ATP Finals for the fourth successive year.
The top-seeded Austrian was on-form from the get-go, striking eight aces and losing just seven of his first-service points (32/39) in a 6-4, 6-1 victory over his Frenchman opponent in 82 minutes. Thiem had lost his two previous matches against Gasquet at the 2015 Swiss Indoors Basel and the 2017 Erste Bank Open in Vienna.
“I was ready from the first point on, as I have had a lot of trouble from him in the past,” said Thiem, who will next face Chinese wild card Zhizhen Zhang. “I tried to avoid that today, I felt great from the first practice and it’s great to get my first win in Beijing. It’s one of the strongest tournaments, you can lose every match, but I was very good today.”
Should Thiem, who is next in line to qualify for the season finale, advance to this week’s final in Beijing he will confirm his place at The O2 in London from 10-17 November. So far this season, the 26-year-old has lifted silverware at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells (d. Federer), the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Medvedev) and the Generali Open in Kitzbuhel (d. Ramos-Vinolas).
Elsewhere, third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is currently in sixth position in the 2019 ATP Race To London, battled back from an 0-2 deficit in the third set to beat this year’s Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag champion Dusan Lajovic 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours.
The 21-year-old Tsitsipas is now 39-20 on the season that includes titles at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille (d. Kukushkin) and the Millennium Estoril Open (d. Cuevas). He will now play Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, who was a 6-4, 7-6(3) victor over Guido Pella of Argentina in one hour and 42 minutes.
Sixth seed Fabio Fognini, winner of his first ATP Masters 1000 crown at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in April, came through a nail-biting win over Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan in two-and-a-half hours. Fognini led 6/1 in the deciding set tie-break before closing out a 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(6) victory on his sixth match point. He will now prepare to challenge Russian Andrey Rublev, who denied Grigor Dimitrov the 300th match win of his career on Monday.