Thiem, Tomic advance at Paris Masters
PARIS (AP) Young prospects Dominic Thiem and Bernard Tomic advanced to the second round of the Paris Masters on Monday while local players struggled at the refurbished Bercy arena.
The 22-year-old Thiem, the youngest player in the Top 25, progressed with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 win over Frenchman Adrien Mannarino before Tomic ousted Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-2.
Opening play on center court, Thiem saved five of the six break points he faced to set up a second-round match with 11th-seeded Kevin Anderson at the indoor hard-court tournament. The 19th-ranked Thiem has won his first three titles this season, all on clay.
The revamped arena in south-east Paris, which features newly designed court lighting, a renovated players' lounge and updated facilities for sponsors, did not bring luck to French players, with Mannarino expressing doubts about the new settings at the Palais Omnisports.
''I used to love that stadium, how it was before, and right now I'm not convinced by the new Bercy,'' Mannarino said. ''I believe it will take some time before we get used to it. It's true for the players and also for the crowd.''
Among the 11 French players in the main draw, three have already gone home as Benoit Paire rallied past two-time runner-up Gael Monfils 2-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4 in an all-French encounter and wild-card entry Nicolas Mahut also bowed out in the first round, losing 7-5, 6-3 to qualifier Dusan Lajovic.
Paire was overwhelmed by Monfils' powerful groundstrokes early on and made too many unforced errors. He quickly found himself trailing 4-0 in the second set before staging an unexpected comeback.
''I think I was too kind with him at that moment and I allowed him back in the match,'' said the 20th-ranked Monfils. ''Then he took his chances, played well.''
Punching the air after every winner, Paire won five consecutive games and created a first set point in the 12th game but hit a passing shot wide. He missed four more set points in the tiebreaker before finally forcing a decider with a charge to the net.
Paire's aggressive display was rewarded with a break in the ninth game of the third set and he sealed his win with his eighth ace of the match.
After making unusual mistakes at the net, Mahut blamed fatigue and the slow speed of the court for his early exit.
''I enjoyed playing there. It's just that I wasn't good today,'' Mahut said. ''I mean, the only factor is the fact that the court is very slow. From one year to the other, it changes. Sometimes it's faster, sometimes slower. Maybe it was because it was slow that I wanted to force the shots.''
The 23-year-old Tomic, who won his third title this summer, is enjoying his best season on the ATP tour and has surged up to No. 18 in the rankings. Monday's win over Fognini was his 40th this year and earned him a second-round match with French Open champion Stan Wawrinka.
Thomaz Bellucci also made it to the second round, where he will be up against top-ranked Novak Djokovic, the defending champion in Paris. Bellucci defeated lucky loser Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-4, 6-4.
The Paris Masters is the final regular-season tournament before the eight best players meet in London at the ATP World Tour Finals from Nov. 15-22. David Ferrer and Kei Nishikori have booked the final two spots available at the elite event last week, joining Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych.
Ferrer will start his Parisian campaign against Alexandr Dolgopolov, who defeated Jiri Vesely 6-3, 7-6 (6), while Federer will take on Andreas Seppi, who beat Pablo Cuevas 7-5, 6-3.