Richard Gasquet, desperately seeking both form and fitness ahead of Wimbledon, came through a testing time by 6’5″ Aussie ace Bernard Tomic with a three set success.
Gasquet, who stands out as the ATP Tour’s star of the last Eastbourne event to feature men, is the sole top 20 ace in the main draw and showed why he is world #17 with a 6-4 3-6 6-3 victory.
The Frenchman. who has endured a shocking injury-ravaged season and only returned to the professional circuit at Roland Garros, was quick off the blocks to take a cagey opening set.
But Tomic moved up a couple of gears to level matters, with Gasquet looking like a beaten man before the decisive set – just like he did at the grass court tournament in Halle, when he left the Gerry Weber Open in Netherlands without a win.
But Gasquet, a former semi-finalist at Wimbledon, made his long overdue Eastbourne debut a memorable one on Centre Court to produce the goods when it really mattered.
And the triumph over Tomic was made sweeter by the fact that he had tasted a four set defeat to the Australian at 2013 Wimbledon – his only victory over Gasquet in five previous meetings.
If Gasquet is going to progress at Devonshire Park then the 27-year-old will have to hope that his recent back injuries can cope with the pace and low bounces, although he will be ensuring that he stays fit for a shot at Wimbledon.