In the first round at the Mutua Madrid Open, Frenchman Richard Gasquet defeated 14th seeded Czech Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-2 in one hour 16 minutes to send him crashing out. He will now play the winner of Karen Khachanov or qualifier Dusan Lajovic.
Gasquet grabs lone break to take the opener
Both players began the match with a comfortable hold for 1-1. In the third game, Berdych had to come from a 15-30 deficit to hold and go 1-2 ahead. For the second straight service game, Gasquet held to love to continue his dominance on serve for 2-2. The next two service games also went on serve with the two players unable to get the breakthrough at 3-3.
But serving in the seventh game, the 14th seed Berdych conceded the first break point of this tightly contested set at 30-40 after coming to the net and missing a simple dropshot volley. The 32-year-old went with the serve and volley tactics which paid off as he denied the world number 29 before going on to hold serve, 3-4.
Just like for much of this set, Gasquet held serve with ease, losing just the one point to draw level at 4-4. And once again, Berdych found himself in trouble on serve at 30-40 as he faced a second break point of the set. He then went two for two on break points saved with the Frenchman sending a forehand long of the baseline.
But, the 31-year-old chased down a poor dropshot and finished the point with a backhand winner to break for 5-4. Serving for the set, Gasquet brought up a first set point at 30-40 with an unreturnable serve. At the first time of asking, the first set was wrapped up 6-4 with his trademark backhand winner.
Gasquet seals victory to book his place in round two
At the start of the second set, things got better for Gasquet as he immediately picked up two breakpoint opportunities at 15-40 with Berdych netting. He only needed the one opportunity to break as the world number 17 smashed an unmissable forehand shot wide after opening up the court with a shot down the line.
The Frenchman consolidated the break to get off to the perfect start n this second set, 2-0. Once again, Berdych had to save a break point chance at 30-40 in the third game. Which he did, following an excellent first serve. Two points later and the Czechman held serve to get on the board in the set at 2-1.
Gasquet for the umpteenth time this match held serve with relative ease. At 3-1 in the second, Berdych found himself in danger of a round one exit with Gasquet taking the game to deuce then forcing the error to gain the most important break point of the match. A perfectly timed dropshot did the job for the 31-year-old who went 5-1 ahead.
The Frenchman consolidated to go just a game of the second round at 5-1. For one of the rare times in this round one encounter, Berdych held serve to love to win just his second game of the second set. But his race was done as Gasquet brought up two match points. Though one was saved, the world number 29 finished the job with a forehand winner.