The world no. 140 and Montpellier champion from the last week Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has been one of the most productive players so far in 2019, defeating a qualifier Thomas Fabbiano 6-1, 6-4 in 66 minutes to notch the tenth win of the season.
2017 Rotterdam champion fired 12 aces and lost just eight points in nine service games, saving the only break point he faced to mount the pressure on Fabbiano who couldn’t match those numbers behind the initial shot. The Italian served at 77% although that gave him pretty much nothing, dropping more than 40% of the points in his games and losing serve thrice from four opportunities he gave to Jo.
The Frenchman found the range right from the opening game, holding at love and breaking Thomas in game two when the Italian netted a backhand. Fending off a break point in game three with an ace, Jo he continued where he left and he broke again in the following game with a forehand return winner that gave him a huge advantage.
Firing from all cylinders, Tsonga blasted seven winners in the last two service games for a 6-1, hoping for more of the same in the rest of the encounter. Fabbiano raised his level in set number two to stay in touch until 4-4 before Jo secured the crucial break with a forehand crosscourt winner in game nine before sealing the deal with four direct points on serve to march into the second round.
Marton Fucsovics kicked off his first Rotterdam campaign with a 7-6, 6-4 triumph against Martin Klizan in an hour and 39 minutes. Marton delivered better numbers behind both the first and second serve, facing only two break points and getting broken once, challenging Klizan to repeat the same to stay in contention.
2016 champion was unable to achieve that, playing against four break points and giving the serve away twice, enough for the Hungarian to close the match in straight sets. The opening set offered no break points and Marton won it in the tie break after clinching the last four points from 3-4.
Klizan bounced back from 3-1 down in the second set to level the score at 3-3 but he couldn’t stay on the positive side of the scoreboard for too long, suffering another break in the very next game and allowing Fucsovics to complete the clash with two good holds in games eight and ten.
Just like Tsonga, Daniil Medvedev is another player who arrived in Rotterdam with a title under his belt, conquering Sofia in the previous week and staying on the winning course following a 7-6, 6-2 victory over Jeremy Chardy in an hour and 33 minutes.
The Russian hit 22 winners and 16 unforced errors, taming his shots nicely and overcoming two breaks he experienced with a solid display on the return, creating ten chances and converting four. Despite a 4-1 lead in the opener, Daniil had to win it in the tie break where he grabbed two mini-breaks for a 7-2.
He never looked back after that, serving well in the second set and forging a 3-0 lead with a double break. The youngster landed four winners at 5-2 to confirm the win in strong fashion and reach the second round where he will face Fernando Verdasco.
The struggling Bosnian Damir Dzumhur won the last match in Paris last year against Stefanos Tsitsipas and he has defeated the Australian Open semi-finalist for the second time in a row now, toppling the 3rd seed 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 in an hour and 54 minutes.
Stefanos made too many unforced errors from both wings and he failed to avoid a defeat despite a great effort in the closing stages of the match. The second serve let Stefanos down completely, facing ten break points and giving the serve away five times, missing a chance to build upon that second set where he was the dominant figure.
Damir did well to stay focused after wasting a lead in the decider, breaking Tsitsipas at love in the 12th game to cross the finish line and score the first win of the season.