TENNIS - BRISBANE

French Gasquet makes it through first stage in season opener

Two French players, seventh-seeded Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau have made it to the second round of the Brisbane ATP International tournament. This event marks the start of the 2009 tennis season.

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AFP - Frenchman Richard Gasquet blew away the cobwebs to beat his countryman Marc Gicquel and move through to the second round of the Brisbane International tennis tournament here Sunday.

The world No.24 lost the first set against his compatriot but stormed back to win 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.

He will play Taylor Dent in the second round following the American's 7-6 (7/0), 6-2 win over Steve Darcis of Belgium.

Gasquet admitted to nerves ahead of his clash with Gicquel, a player he knows well and who beat him four months ago.

"He knows my game -- he's a countryman so he knows how I play, so that's bad for me," Gasquet said.

"He played better than me in the first so I tried to fight and to concentrate on my service games.

"I broke him in the second set, which was really important for me.

"After that I was more confident in my game and in the second and third sets I was really happy because I played well."

Gasquet and Gicquel are part of a seven-strong contingent of French men at the Brisbane International, which also includes second seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

"We are all friends," Gasquet said.

"Tsonga is one year older than me -- (Gilles) Simon, (Gael) Monfils, we are the same generation.

"We are friends and that's important -- it's important to have a lot of great players (from the same country)."

He said the French players enjoyed playing the Australian leg of the ATP tour.

"We like to play in Australia at this time of year because it's zero degrees in Paris, so it's good for us here."

Fourth seed Robin Soderling of Sweden moved into the second round with a comfortable 6-3, 6-3 win over American Sam Querry.

He will take on Frenchman Julien Benneteau in the next round after Benneteau downed Robbi Ginepri of the United States in three sets, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.

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