Chennai, Jan 1 (UNI) The upcoming French talent Julien Benneteau looking for a good season opener enroute to Australian Open became the first seeded player to advance into the second round with a 6-3, 6-4 straight set win against rookie Russian Telmuraz Gabashvili in the first round singles outing in the ATP Tour Chennai Open 2007 here today.
The third round loser in the 2006 Australian Open the fourth seed Benneteau had come to Chennai with the reputation of a dark horse for the title, however, had to struggle with his returns throughout the match which was seemingly onesided. The young Russian ranked 112 to Benneteau's 40 kept coming back into the contest braving a severe shoulder strain especially in the second set.
Gabashvilli allowed Benneteau to break him just twice in the match. He held serve well until it was 4-4, starting off the second game with a 1-0 lead.
Benneteau, often stunned and left stranded on the court by the Russian's forehand cross court passing shots, relied entirely on his serve although he snuffed out the Russian challenge breaking Gabashvilli in the ninth game of the second set and holding serve in the tenth.
Benneteau began the match serving first and starting off slamming down an ace. He sruged to a 2-1 lead and broke the Russian in the fourth game to be up 3-1 and 4-1 holding serve. The Russian held serve in the sixth to make it 2-4 and again in the eighth to make it 3-5 surviving two break points. But Benneteau shut him out holding serve in the ninth.
''It's important to win the first match in a tournament'', Benneteau said in the post match press conference, adding ''I am happy I won.'' The French power in this edition of Chennai Open marched ahead with eight seed, Nicholas Mahut also making it to the second round with a hard fought 7-5, 6-4 straight set win over left hander Alejandro Falla of Colombia, ranked 108.
Falla, the no 1 Colombian became the first player from his country in year end top 100 of ATP ranking since Ivan Molina in 1979. He had reached the second at Wimbledon in 2006 and the French Open in which he lost to world no 1 Roger Federer.
In two other first round matches, unseeded Italian, Stefano Galvani, ranked 110 upset higher ranked Taipei player Yen-Hsun Lu(89) 6-2, 6-3 while in another upset win Kevin Kim of US ranked 101 fought back from a first set loss to defeat Simon Gruel, ranked no 82, of Germany 1-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Galvani started off in great style breaking Yen Lu in the first and the third games of the first set for a 4-0 lead. In the second set he broke his opponent in the first, the seventh and the ninth games.
Results:Singles (Round One): Julien Benneteau (France) bt Telmuraz Gabashvili(Rus) 6-3, 6-4, Nicolas Mahut(France) bt Alejandro Falla 7-5, 6-4, Stefano Galvani(Italy) bt Yen Hsun Lu (Taipei) 6-2, 6-3, Kevin Kim (USA) bt Simon Greul (Germany) 1-6, 6-2, 6-3.