Home favorite Lucas Pouille impressed the partisan crowd with a battling 6-7(1), 6-3, 6-4, win over Feliciano Lopez in the second round of the BNP Paribas Masters. Pouille got his revenge after a first round loss to Lopez last week at the Erste Bank Open. The Frenchman will now face off against Andy Murray or Fernando Verdasco for a place in the quarterfinals.
There was little to separate the pair in the opening set as both players cruised through their service games. Pouille faltered in the end as Lopez ran away with the tiebreak to take a one set lead. Pouille bounced back in the second, and after losing his one break lead broke again twice and consolidated, taking the second set to the delight of the crowd. The decider was extremely tight with both players having multiple chances on return throughout the set, but in a tense final game Pouille pounced and broke for the set and a place in the third round.
Tightly contested opener
Pouille sailed through an easy hold to begin the match, with Lopez quickly doing the same to tie them up. Both men cruised through another quick hold each as they both served extremely well, using the backhand slice and drop shots to mix up the pace. A love hold for Pouille kept him ahead at 3-2.
The first long rally of the match went the way of Pouille on the return as both players hit very aggressively to try and gain the upper hand, but Lopez still held on to take them to 3-3 after only fifteen minutes. The Frenchman continued cruising through on serve to take another love hold with some more excellent serving, with Lopez yet to win a point on the first serve of Pouille.
A double fault from Lopez as he was serving to stay in the set at 5-4 gifted Pouille a lead on return. A big serve leveled them at 15-15 but Pouille pushed Lopez around the court with big forehands to go back ahead. A risky second serve from Lopez paid off and the Spaniard survived the pressure to take them to 5-5.
The pressure switched to Pouille in the next game as this time a double fault gave Lopez a lead on return at 15-30. A shot from the Frenchman drifted long to give Lopez the first break point of the match but it was quickly erased as a well-placed serve got him out of trouble and Pouille held to stay ahead at 6-5. The Spaniard held easily, with nothing to separate the pair as they headed into a tiebreak.
Pouille handed the mini-break to Lopez immediately with a double fault and a good serve-volley from the Spaniard followed by a good serve meant that Lopez raced to a 3-0 lead. An ace got Pouille on the board but Lopez snuck into the net and volleyed away a shot for 4-1. An ace cemented Lopez's chances at 5-1 as the partisan crowd tried to get behind Pouille. Two straight aces took Lopez to 6-1 with five chances to secure the set, but only the one was needed as Pouille hit another double fault to hand the breaker and the first set to Lopez, 7-6(1).
Frenchman's fight back
Pouille closed down the net in the opening game on return to earn himself a 0-30 lead. Lopez survived the danger and claimed the next four points to hold on, yet to face a break point. A great backhand crosscourt winner from Pouille gave him the hold and halted Lopez's momentum early in the second set. The pressure was on the Spaniard as Pouille fought from 40-15 to deuce. The Frenchman earned himself a first break point with an incredible passing shot but Lopez erased the danger with a well-timed volley. Another passing shot gave Pouille his second break point and this time was dealt with as Lopez hit a huge serve to the body of Pouille. A third passing shot in a row left Lopez in danger again and this time a good return from Pouille gave him the first break of the match for a 2-1 lead.
The lead was in danger straight away as a couple of loose points from Pouille gave Lopez a 0-30 lead. A backhand shank from the Frenchman gave Lopez two chances to get the break straight back. One was erased with a backhand crosscourt winner a bad miss on the backhand gave the break to Lopez. Another battle on serve went the way of the returner again as Pouille fought for another break and gave himself another chance to consolidate the lead at 3-2.
Pouille's lead looked to be in danger for the second time as Lopez took a 0-30 lead on return. The Frenchman fought out the next three points to earn a game point to finally consolidate the lead. Lopez managed to hold off the first game point and the second with a perfectly placed backhand. The hold finally came on the fourth game point and Pouille finally consolidated the break to take a 4-2 lead.
Lopez had a better time on serve in the next game as he held easily to stay within one game of Pouille. There were chances on return again for Lopez at 15-30 and at deuce but Pouille fought through to go a game away from leveling the match. Great returning and a double fault from Lopez gave Pouille two set points to close out the set on return. A huge serve saved the first but Lopez was unable to control the return as he charged into the net on the second and Pouille took the second set 6-3 to level the match.
Both players saved a break point each in their opening service games of the third set. Pouille kept the momentum going from a quick hold to earn himself two break points in the next game. Lopez held them off with some impressive defense and more serve-volleying to eventually seal the crucial hold on his second game point.
Pouille held on, impressing the home crowd with his volleying skills on the way to taking a 3-2 lead. Lopez then held just as easily to tie them up as they headed into the latter stages of the final set. The Frenchman had to deal with some more danger on serve at 30-30 but he showed good signs in battling through another tricky hold to stay ahead.
Another quick hold each took Pouille a game away from the win. A forehand wide took the Frenchman ahead and a great return left Lopez trailing 0-30 as he was serving to stay in the set. Another excellent return gave Pouille three match points. The Spaniard extended the match, surviving the next two tense points to leave Pouille with one match point. The pressure got to Lopez eventually though and a double fault gave Pouille revenge on last week's defeat and a place in the third round.