Tsonga beats Paire to set up potential Federer clash

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga broke Benoit Paire’s serve early in the first set and looked the better player as he battled to a 6-4, 7-5 win. (AFP pic)

GERMANY: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is likely to face Roger Federer in the second round of the ATP tournament in Halle after beating compatriot Benoit Paire in straight sets on Tuesday.

Tsonga broke Paire’s serve early in the first set and looked the better player as he battled to a 6-4, 7-5 win to set up a potential meeting with Federer, who later plays Australian John Millman.

The 30-year-old Paire, infamous for his on-court tantrums, was given a warning in the first set after throwing his racket, but had the crowd laughing in the second when he and Tsonga, 34, engaged in a spontaneous keepy-uppy rally.

Last year’s winner Borna Coric eased to a straight sets win over Spain’s Jaume Munar in his first-round tie, winning 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 to set up a second-round tie with Portugal’s Joao Sousa.

Home favourite Jan-Lennard Struff also reached the second round with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Serbia’s Laslo Djere, his first ever singles victory in Halle.

“I used to live nearby. I would come here every year and lose, so it is great to have finally won,” said Struff.

There was to be less joy for the Halle crowd as Germans Mats Moraing, Peter Gojowczyk and Rudolf Molleker were all knocked out on Tuesday.

Moraing lost 4-6, 6-7 (4/7) to Italy’s Andreas Seppi while Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky came from behind to beat Molleker 3-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-2.

Gojowczyk was crushed 6-3, 6-4 by France’s Richard Gasquet.

Gasquet will face seventh seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round after the Spaniard cruised to a 7-6 (12/10), 6-0 victory over American Taylor Fritz.

Elsewhere, Belgium’s David Goffin thrashed eighth seed Guido Pella 6-1, 6-1.