Gasquet, ranked 40th in the world, beat 6th-ranked Christopher O'Connell of Australia 4-3, 6-6, 1-86 to win his first victory in seven years in the Florida event, where he was also a semifinalist in 2013.

Despite losing the 2nd set, he was the most consistent, committing only 8 direct faults to 26. Winner in Auckland at the very beginning of the year, he was the most realistic too, converting three of the five break balls he obtained.

The Biterrois will then challenge Stefanos Tsitsipas, 3rd in the world, not in his best form, because suffering from an arm. But the 36-year-old Frenchman didn't seem to want to count on it.

"yes, injured guys... I played (Jannik) Sinner in Indian Wells who wasn't very good at the knee against me and behind him made a semi (final). We'il see. They are the best players in the world. Against Sinner I had a big game and if I reproduce the same level of play, the other one will have to be good. We'll see what Tsitsipas comes up with, but I think it's going to be okay for him anyway, otherwise he wouldn't play," he told L'Equipe.

Adrian Mannarino (62nd) took a set, before beating 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 from Juncheng Shang (181st).

Premieres for Halys and Barrère

Missed the first, accumulating direct faults, the 34-year-old Frenchman managed to settle his game in the second, also taking advantage of a foot injury of the great hope of Chinese tennis, 16 years his junior. But it still took him nine break balls to finally break away and equalize. The third set was simpler, as he took his rival's serve twice, each time on his first opportunity.

Mannarino, who has never made it past the 1/8th finals in Florida, will then face American Ben Shelton (39th), quarterfinalist at the Australian Open.

Quentin Halys (79th), winner 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) of the Spaniard Pedro Martinez (121st), and Grégoire Barrère (65th), who fell 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 of the Russian Roman Safiullin (104), recorded their first victory in a Masters 1000.

The 26-year-old will then face Australian Alex De Minaur (18th). The 29-year-old will have even more to face Britain's Cameron Norrie (12th).

Finally, Benoît Paire (170th), was eliminated 6-4, 7-5 by Japan's Yosuke Watanuki (123rd), who was, like him, from qualifying.

France's Richard Gasquet serves against Australia's Christopher O'Connell in the first round of the Miami Masters 1 on March 1000, 23 in Miami © MATTHEW STOCKMAN/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

The 33-year-old Frenchman, who has gone through several seasons of malaise, had regained a little confidence ten days ago by winning the challenger tournament in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. And he hung on in this match, although dominated in the exchange (34 winning shots for the Japanese against 18 for the French).

He even managed to break at 4-2 in the second set to lead 5-4, but he was weighed down by his serve, committing his 10th and 11th double faults at 5-5 to again give up his serve and the match behind.

© 2023 AFP