Shanghai – Richard Gasquet rediscovered the winning formula Monday after last week's shock defeat in Beijing, cruising into the second round of the Shanghai Masters as Nicolas Almagro slumped to defeat.
Gasquet crashed to a humiliating loss at the China Open to Chinese wildcard Zhang Ze, who was ranked 151 places below him, just days after the Frenchman won the Thailand Open by beating compatriot Gilles Simon.
But the 26-year-old, seeded 11th in Shanghai, made sure there was no repeat on the second day of action in Shanghai, winning four out of five break points to dispatch American journeyman Brian Baker 6-2, 6-3.
Tenth seed Cilic, who stands 6 feet 6 inches (198 cm) tall, joined him in the second round with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Lukasz Kubot, hitting eight aces and breaking his Polish opponent four times.
It was the first main draw match win in four attempts at the Shanghai Masters for the 24-year-old Croat, who fell in the first round in 2009-2011.
But in the late evening match, Spanish ninth seed Almagro, chasing one of the last four slots at the ATP World Tour Finals, could not match his fellow seeds, slipping to defeat against Germany veteran Tommy Haas 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2.
The tenacious Haas battled back to take the second set in a tie-break before stepping up his game to break twice in the third set to seal the match.
Earlier, Sam Querrey of the United States fired 11 aces in a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Chinese wildcard Zhe Li.
“I feel like I'm playing better now than a year and a half ago when I was ranked number 17,” said Querrey, now ranked 26th.
“I'm more confident,” he added. “Felt good out there today. It was fun to play in that stadium. I thought I served great. I thought I returned well and I took advantage of the break points. That was the key.”
Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov set up a clash with Novak Djokovic by beating Pablo Andujar of Spain 7-5, 6-3. But he faces a daunting task against the second seed, fresh from victory at the China Open and aiming to displace Roger Federer at the top of the rankings.
The number one ranking is on the line at the Shanghai Masters.
Federer can guarantee he remains as the top-ranked player by reaching the quarter-finals but anything less and Djokovic would overtake the Swiss by winning the Shanghai crown.
Federer is beginning his 299th week as world number one, having usurped Djokovic at the top of the leaderboard after winning his 17th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon.
Apart from Federer and Djokovic, the top two seeds in Shanghai, the other main drawcard is US Open champion Andy Murray. The top eight seeds get a bye into the second round.
Frenchman Benoit Paire defeated German qualifier Philipp Petzschner 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 to set up a clash with compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the fifth seed.
There were also wins on Monday for Spain's Tommy Robredo and Kevin Anderson of South Africa. – Sapa-AFP