Unseeded Spaniard ousts top man

2009-04-14 00:00

THE big upset on day one of the R1-million Soweto Men’s Open tennis tournament at Arthur Ashe Stadium yesterday was the unseeded Fernando Vicente of Spain’s ousting of second seed Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-7 (4/7) 6-4 6-2.

Vicente said his mind started to wander after he lost the first-set tiebreak. “You wonder why you travelled so far only to go out in the first round,” he said. But he drew strength from having beaten world number 67, Muller, in their two previous matches and realised that at altitude long rallies are nigh-impossible and honed his game sufficiently to take the deciding two sets.

Having earned a world ranking of 29 at the height of his career, a spate of injuries hampered Vicente’s progress and at age 32 he is now 240th in the world, but he said his appetite for the game has not diminished and he counts Andre Agassi and Tim Henman among his victories, along with compatriot Alex Corretja.

Muller (25) said he was struggling for consistency after coming back from injury. “My fitness and rhythm are not there yet, I over-hit at altitude and lost momentum after the first set, letting myself down at key moments.”

With defeats of Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon, Andy Roddick (U.S. Open) as well as the scalps of Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko and Argentine David Nalbandian on his CV, the man from Luxembourg shouldn’t have long to wait before his game is back on track.

Another upset saw unseeded Harel Levy of Israel defeat seventh seed Chris Guccione of Australia 7-5 7-6 (9/7).

The two South Africans in singles action yesterday, wild cards Andrew Anderson and Fritz Wolmarans, went head to head with Wolmarans winning 6-7 (3/7) 6-3 7-6 (7-5) in a titanic struggle lasting two hours and 24 minutes. It marked another saga in the burgeoning battles between the two, Anderson winning the qualifier at the SA Open in early February.

Wolmarans (23) is based in Miami and is under the tutelage of countryman Marcos Ondruska.

Today top seed Fabrice Santoro and SA Davis Cup players Rik de Voest, Izak van der Merwe and Raven Klaasen play their first-round matches.

RESULTS

Singles first round: Fernando Vicente (Esp) bt 2-Gilles Muller (Lux) 6-7 (4/7) 6-4 6-2; Joseph Sirianni (Aus) bt Sergei Bubka (Ukr) 6-3 7-6 (9/7); Harel Levy (Isr) bt 7-Chris Guccione (Aus) 7-5 7-6 (9/7); Fritz Wolmarans (Rsa) bt Andrew Anderson (Rsa) 6-7 (3/7) 6-3 7-6 (7-5).

Doubles first round: 2-Michail Elgin (Rus)/Alexandre Kudryavtsev (Rus) bt Jose Checa-Calvo (Esp)/Carlos Poch-Gradin (Esp) 6-2 7-5.

Final qualifiers: 2-N Okun (Isr) bt 7-H Coertzen (Rsa) 6-3 6-2; 4-D Molchanov (Ukr) bt S Havenga (Rsa) 6-1 6-2; 3-C Eaton (Gbr) bt 6-B Janse van Rensburg (Rsa) 6-1 6-3; 1-W Jun (Kor) bt 8-A Mawire (Zim) 6-4 7-5.

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