By Ros Satar
- Aljaz Bedene def. Paul-Henri Mathieu 3-6 6-1 6-4
- Sets up R2 clash with  Lucas Pouille
- Anna Blinkova def. Naomi Broady 3-6 6-4 6-3
MARSEILLE & BUDAPEST – It was a day of mixed fortunes for the Brits in action as Aljaz Bedene won a chance to clash with fourth seed Lucas Pouille, while Naomi Broady struggled to consolidate her lead against qualifier Anna Blinkova.
Aljaz Bedene def. Paul-Henri Mathieu 3-6 6-1 6-4
It was no easy feat for the Brit, who has struggled to find the kind of consistent form that made him the British No. 2 behind Andy Murray and a Top 50 player. Now bobbling around just outside the Top 100, the decision by the ITF not to allow him to play for Great Britain seemed to send the quiet spoken Aljaz Bedene off the rails.
Dropping back down to find some match-wins on the Challenger Circuit, Bedene at least started the year brightly enough in Chennai on the way to the quarter-final, but suffered the indignity of beating Denis Istomin in Rotterdam in the final round of qualifying, only to lose to him in the first round after the Uzbek made the main draw as a lucky loser.
He had a tough job against Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu who eased past the Brit in the first set, before Bedene mounted a comeback, playing far more dominantly in the second set, before easing through the decider.
Bedene v Lucas Pouille  – First meeting
From one Frenchman to another, Lucas Pouille is a quite different prospect. His rise up the rankings last year makes him a real contender to keep carrying the baguette of French hopes. His start to the year though was marred by an early injury that saw him retire against Kyle Edmund in Brisbane the week before the Australian Open, and no doubt was a factor in the 16th seed’s early exit in Melbourne.
Pouille missed the ATP Lost Boys generation, and the much vaunted #NextGen but the kid can play. His execution across all range of strokes is solid and he is very consistent and he has a way of making everything look effortless – it was a style of play that took him to perhaps his best career win of late, beating then fourth seed Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of the US Open last year.
Bedene, at his most consistent is a decent enough player to get through a few rounds but he lacks the kinds of weapons that brings the huge jumps up the rankings. That being said, it was perhaps a decidedly rusty Pouille that suffered a first round exit in Rotterdam – his first tournament since the Australian Open.
Prediction: Pouille in two sets.
Anna Blinkova def. Naomi Broady 3-6 6-4 6-3
It just is not happening right now for Naomi Broady as she squandered a set lead against qualifier Anna Blinkova to fall in the opening round of the inaugural Hungarian Ladies Open. Broady overcame an opening break on her own serve to break the Russian back twice to take the lead.
It was just one more forceful effort by Blinkova at the end of the second set to draw level before just one decisive break in the third set to give the qualifier a decent scalp.
With that, Broady slips out of the Top 100, having been as high as 76 in March last year, and will play in Acapulco next week.
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