PARIS (Reuters) - The lack of spectators did not take the pressure off the French men at their home Grand Slam as none of those playing on Tuesday advanced to the second round at Roland Garros to produce a collective failure only seen once before in the Open era.
Ugo Humbert, Richard Gasquet, Gilles Simon, Quentin Halys, Harold Mayot and Gregoire Barrere all exited, leaving only four compatriots in the main draw, just the second time so few French men have got that far since tennis turned professional in 1968.
Since only four French men survived the first round 20 years ago, at least six have got to the second round at Roland Garros.
In 2000, there were 17 in the main draw, while this year 18 French men started the tournament.
This year’s French Open is only allowing a maximum of 1,000 spectators a day - way below the usual figure of 40,000 - leaving the local favourites free of the crowd pressures.
But that did not help.
Only Benoit Paire, qualifier Benjamin Bonzi, wildcard Hugo Gaston and Pierre-Hugues Herbert will be fighting for a place in the third round.
Bonzi faces NextGen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner of Italy while Herbert plays U.S. Open runner-up Alexander Zverev.
France’s best chance, eighth-seeded Gael Monfils, was sent packing on Monday by Kazakh Alexander Bublik, saying he would take some time for himself and see when he will compete again.
On Tuesday, a lacklustre Gasquet suffered a straight-sets defeat by 10th seed Roberto Bautista Agut, while 38th-ranked Humbert never found his range against South African Marc Polmans, the world number 122.
Only Simon produced a decent performance as he snatched a set from Canadian ninth seed Denis Shapovalov.
In 2000, only Cedric Pioline reached the fourth round.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris
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