Hoping for a sporting clean sweep, Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga carried the French flag into the Wimbledon second round with straight-sets wins over Britain’s Aljaz Bedene and Spain’s Inigo Cervantes on Tuesday.
Seventh seed Gasquet used his trademark backhand to good effect to see off the British No.2 6-3 6-4 6-3, although both players pulled off strokes that were at times things of beauty during their baseline rallies.
Tsonga, back in action for the first time after retiring from the French Open with a groin injury, shook off the cobwebs of a close first few games to beat the Spaniard, ranked 75th in the world, 6-4 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.
France started the tournament with 16 men in singles action, the most of any country and an Open Era record.
With the men’s final at Wimbledon and the climax of soccer’s European Championship in Paris both on July 10, the French will be hoping to scoop all the sporting silverware a week on Sunday.
Gasquet edged out Bedene, ranked 56th and coming off the back of reaching the third round at Roland Garros, in all areas of the match, before closing it out with a backhand crosscourt volley.
“It’s a close match because he’s playing very good from the baseline. He’s a very dangerous player, has a good serve. To win in three sets, it’s a good match for me,” Gasquet said.
Moving well around the baseline and into the net, 12th seed Tsonga, also twice a Wimbledon semi-finalist, showed no sign of the injury that forced him out of his home tournament in tears and made him withdraw from the Queen’s warm-up event.
Stan Wawrinka met stiff resistance from American teenager Taylor Fritz before he finally asserted his dominance in a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 6-7 (7-2) 6-4 first-round victory.
The Swiss fourth seed was far from his best, with his groundstrokes uncharacteristically erratic, but his fearsome one-handed backhand and experience were enough to see off the 18-year-old making his tournament debut.
Fritz, the youngest man in the draw, showed few nerves in the first set as he matched the twice grand slam champion shot-for-shot in a punishing baseline battle on Number One Court.
But his confidence seemed to evaporate after he lost the tiebreak. He won just one game in the second set as Wawrinka found his range and bossed the exchanges.
Wawrinka struggled for concentration in a scrappy third set in which he made a string of unforced errors and he lost the tiebreak. Visibly angry with himself, the 31-year-old stepped up his game to close out the match in the fourth.