By John Delong, Winston-Salem Open
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - Top-seeded Richard Gasquet needed two hours and 28 minutes to dispatch Daniel Evans 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in the second round of the Winston-Salem Open on Monday night. But that was more than fine with the 30-year-old Frenchman.
Gasquet continues to work his way back to form after missing five weeks recently with a back injury, so a little extra time on the court didn’t bother him at all. In fact, knowing that he can survive an intense three-setter might be just what the doctor ordered.
“I’m a little tired, but I need it, you know,” Gasquet said. “When I’ve been practicing, I haven’t gone more than two hours so it’s important for me to have this kind of match. It was a tough match for me but I know I’m tough to beat and it’s important for me to win this kind of match.”
Gasquet was forced to retire from his fourth-round match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Wimbledon with a back injury in early July, and didn’t return to action until last week at Cincinnati. He won one match there, then lost in the second round to WSO defending champion Kevin Anderson. So Monday’s win was just his third match back.
Gasquet said that he is feeling better, but is still not 100 percent healthy.
“I’m feeling better,” he said. “I know it takes a long time after being off five or six weeks. I know that. So I need to be patient, to play matches, to practice, and eventually it will come back. But I need matches right now. I think I will be better on Wednesday.”
Gasquet, currently No. 15 in the ATP World Tour rankings, will get Tuesday off as second-round play continues. Then on Wednesday he will face Stephane Robert, who beat 13-seed Federico Delbonis in another second-round match Monday night.
Gasquet broke Evans in the final game to win the first set. He was broken twice in the second set, however, and Evans took momentum into the third. The crucial moment for Gasquet came at 2-2 in the third, when he fought off two break points to hold serve. He immediately broke Evans and went on to take a 5-2 lead.
“I finished well,” Gasquet said. “I know how to finish matches. That hasn’t changed. So hopefully I can build on this. The first one is always difficult but I think I can build off this.”
Evans came into the match ranked No. 67. He had reached a career-high No. 60 last week after winning a Challenger in Aptos, California, as he continues to rise after being ranked as low as No. 778 in the past year.
He was pleased with the way he played, just not the outcome.
“Clearly I played well,” Evans said. “I wouldn’t have been able to compete with him if I didn’t play well. I feel pretty confident going into the US Open, I’m doing some good things, so hopefully I can get a good draw and earn some points there.”
In other late matches Monday, 2014 WSO champion Lukas Rosol beat Victor Estrella Burgos 6-4, 1-6, 6-1; Guillermo Garcia-Lopez beat Damir Dzumhur 7-6 (0), 6-1; and John Millman beat Yoshihito Nishioka 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.