LOS ANGELES (AP) - Michael Russell beat top-seeded Benoit Paire 7-5, 6-4 on Thursday night to advance to the Farmers Classic quarterfinals.
Russell, the 34-year-old former University of Miami player ranked 83rd in the world, has never won a singles title in ATP Tour play. Paire, a 23-year-old Frenchman, was slowed by an abdominal muscle strain.
``It was extremely difficult,'' said Russell, the oldest player in the field. ``Benoit has a really awkward game style. You never know what to expect, a winner, a drop shot, an ace, a double fault. He really gets you out of your rhythm. I just tried to dig deep and luckily I got through it. I was pretty proud of myself mentally.''
There were nine service breaks in the first set, five by Russell, before Paire dumped a forehand into the net on the fourth set point. In the second set, Russell broke for a 4-3 lead, rallied from 15-40 down to hold for a 5-3 lead, and won on the fourth match point when Paire put a backhand return into the net.
Russell will face sixth-seeded Marinko Matosevic on Friday at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. Matosevic topped Tobias Kamke 6-3, 1-6, 6-0.
In other second-round matches, fourth-seeded Nicolas Mahut beat Paolo Lorenzi 7-5, 7-6 (7), fifth-seeded Xavier Malisse held off Matthew Ebden 6-4, 6-3, and Ricardas Berankis beat Igor Andreev 6-4, 7-5.
Mahut will play Berankis, and Malisse will face second-seeded Sam Querrey, the 2009 and 2010 tournament winner who missed the event last year after undergoing surgery for a right shoulder injury.
``I'll try to put as many returns (as possible) in play, that's the first thing,'' the 32-year-old Malisse said. ``But I think I've just got to go out and look at my own game. Try to concentrate on what I'm doing, keep trying to hit serves like that and be aggressive.
``I feel like I played a lot more aggressive than in the first round. I have to stick to that. I'm going to miss some shots, but I think eventually it's paying off. It's better for me to play that way.''
In the other quarterfinal, third-seeded Leonardo Mayer will face Rajeev Ram. Querrey, Mayer and Ram advanced Wednesday.