Damir Dzumhur got his Open 13 Provence title bid off to a winning start, saving four match points at 4-5 in the second set before cruising to the finish in a 6-7(6), 7-6(3), 6-1 victory over Mikhail Kukushkin on Monday.
Competing in the Marseille main draw for the first time, the World No. 29 saved eight of ten break points and converted on four of his 13 opportunities to seal his place in the second round after two hours, 55 minutes. Dzumhur won his first two ATP World Tour titles at the end of last season (St. Petersburg, Moscow) on indoor hard courts and is looking to add a third trophy to his collection.
The Bosnian, who is at a career-high in the ATP Rankings, will meet Thomas Fabbiano for a place in the quarter-finals after the Italian beat #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 6-4 in 79 minutes.
The 28-year-old snapped a streak of five consecutive losses in tour-level main draws, ousting Auger-Aliassime in what was the 17-year-old’s second tour-level match.
“I think before the match I wasn’t as nervous. I might have played a better match last week for some reasons,” said Auger-Aliassime. “But that’s tennis. Sometimes you play better and sometimes you don’t. There’s still some work to do to really reach that level here in these big tournaments and to get the confidence going.”
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Julien Benneteau began his quest to reach a second final in Marseille with a win, defeating Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri 6-4, 6-3. The 2010 runner-up (l. to Llodra) broke Jaziri’s serve on three occasions to set up a second-round encounter with ASB Classic champion Roberto Bautista Agut, the fifth seed.
The 36-year-old Frenchman proved that he still has plenty of good tennis to show in Paris last November when he advanced to the semi-finals at the Rolex Paris Masters (l. to Sock).
In qualifying, Ruben Bemelmans, Stefano Travaglia, Norbert Gombos and Ilya Ivashka all scored two-set victories to reach the main draw.