Damir's Stunning Comeback, Take Two
The 25-year-old found himself 0/5 down in a third-set tie-break, but reeled off seven consecutive points to overcome Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano 6-7(5), 7-6(7), 7-6(5). Dzumhur had led the final set by a double break at 4-1, before the Italian grabbed the momentum to fight back and establish a substantial final-set tie-break lead. But, as he did on Monday, Dzumhur produced his best level under intense pressure to rally to victory. The World No. 29 will next face Tomas Berdych or Stefano Travaglia for a place in the semi-finals.
France’s Lucas Pouille twice came within two points of defeat before finally overcoming compatriot Pierre-Hugues Herbert 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-4. The Open Sud de France champion withstood 15 aces from his opponent and found himself at 5/5 and 6/6 in the second set tie-break, before levelling the match and eventually securing the win after two hours and five minutes. "He served very well and it was difficult to return," admitted Pouille. "I was a bit better in the third set, I managed to turn the match around in the tie-break of the second [set]."
Fellow Frenchman Julien Benneteau channelled the home-crowd support to upset No. 5 seed Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6(2), 7-6(5). Benneteau, a runner-up in Marseille in 2010, put in an impressive serving display to see off the Spaniard in their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting.
Nicolas Mahut began his 12th Marseille campaign with a win, beating #NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 7-6(4). The Frenchman, who has reached the quarter-finals on two occasions in Marseille (2008, 2014), dropped just three points behind his serve in the 86-minute encounter to set up a second-round meeting with sixth seed Gilles Muller.
The 36-year-old came in to the tournament having lifted the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament doubles title last week in Rotterdam, and spoke of the benefits of arriving to this week’s event in good form. “[I am] happy with my level today,” said Mahut. “We won the doubles in Rotterdam so I got here with a good rhythm. I'm 17 years older than Stefanos (Tsitsipas) which is quite a lot. He will be a dangerous player in the next few years.”
Luxembourg’s Muller set up the last 16 meeting with Mahut after firing 15 aces en route to a 7-5, 6-3 win over lucky loser Sergiy Stakhovsky. Stakhovsky came into the match having won their only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter at the Winston-Salem Open in 2012, but the 34-year-old proved too strong, saving all seven break points he faced to set up the clash with Mahut..