Paris:Mario Ancic rallied to beat Paul-Henri Mathieu 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the first round of the Paris Masters on Monday, setting up a match against 2005 champion Tomas Berdych.
The Croatian beat Mathieu for the third time in four meetings, the most recent being on Oct 18 in the third round of the Madrid Masters.
"I was feeling pretty good on the court," Ancic said. "(Mathieu) is always hard to play against and gives you no place to hide. He's one of the toughest players for me to play against."
Ancic expects an equally tough challenge against Berdych, the No 12 seed who was still in contention for a place in the season-ending Masters Cup. Ancic eliminated Mathieu's outside chance. The two remaining spots will be decided this week in Paris.
"I hope I can play as well as I did today," Ancic said. "It wasn't an easy draw, Mathieu and next Berdych. It won't be easy as he's playing for a place at the Masters."
Marcos Baghdatis comfortably beat Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-4, 6-2 in a matchup of Masters Cup hopefuls.
"I played a great match," Baghdatis said. "Juan Carlos is a player with great experience. But I didn't let up on any point."
Ferrero's only double fault helped lose him the ninth game of the first set before Baghdatis served it out to love. The Spaniard was broken immediately at the start of the second set when he hit a forehand into the net, and again in the seventh game to give Baghdatis a 5-2 lead. A powerful forehand winner to finish lined him up with a second-round match against 13th-seeded Ivan Ljubicic.
Earlier, Mardy Fish of the United States fired 19 aces in topping Dmitry Tursunov of Russia 7-6 (7), 6-4, Andreas Seppi of Italy downed Sam Querry of the United States 5-7, 6-1, 6-3, and Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina defeated Feliciano Lopez of Spain 6-4, 6-3. Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland beat Nicolas Kiefer of Germany 7-5, 6-3, Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia edged Vince Spadea of the United States 7-6 (9), 7-6 (2), and Mikhail Youzhny of Russia beat Arnaud Clement of France 6-4, 6-3.
Mathieu took the opening set from Ancic with a volley, and fist-pumped as he walked back to his chair.
But Ancic broke in the fourth game of the second set and cruised from there, losing only one point on serve in the last set and closing the match with his 13th ace.
"I think the biggest difference was the serve," Ancic said. "I got more free points in the second and third sets. I went more to the back (of the court)."
Fish saved three break points in the first set and a set point at 6-5 in the tiebreaker with an ace.
In the second set, Fish managed the only break of the match to take control. He will next play fifth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain.
Querry broke Seppi in the first game of the deciding set, but Seppi broke back in the sixth and again to make it 5-3. The Italian faces Guillermo Canas of Argentina in the second round.
Roger Federer has a first-round bye at the indoor event and opens against either Fernando Verdasco or Ivo Karlovic, who play on Tuesday.
Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Nikolay Davydenko, Andy Roddick and Ferrer have qualified for the Masters Cup in Shanghai starting on Nov 11.
Seventh-place Fernando Gonzalez (380 points) has a 51-point lead on eighth-place Tommy Haas. Close behind are Tommy Robredo (328), James Blake (327), Andy Murray (326), Berdych (322) and Richard Gasquet (321).