Defending champion Jarkko Nieminen of Finland lost in the first round of the US$416,000 Heineken Open yesterday, beaten 7-6 (3), 6-1 by Olivier Rochus of Belgium.
Nieminen and Rochus met in the semifinals of last year's Auckland tournament, playing out a three-hour, three-set cliffhanger in which Nieminen held 10 match points before finishing off his unseeded opponent.
Rochus had his revenge yesterday, beating the fourth-seeded Nieminen in an hour and 22 minutes to advance to the second round.
Nieminen said a stomach virus, which affected his preparation for the tournament and reduced his match fitness, played a part in his loss.
"You can always lose because there's many good guys around like Olivier Rochus, but the main thing is that I played really bad," he said.
"I had good memories from last year and I really like this place, this tournament, and I hoped to get in good form in a few days but I just couldn't and if I can't play well against Rochus this kind of result happens," Nieminen said.
Top-seeded Tommy Robredo advanced to the second round, taking only 64 minutes to beat Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo 6-2, 6-1 in an all-Spanish encounter.
Robredo looked fit and sharp as he raced through his match, serving five aces while Ramirez Hidalgo had six double faults.
No. 3 seed David Ferrer of Spain beat form French Open champion Gaston Gaudio 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.
Gaudio saved six set points before winning the first set in one hour and 12 minutes but lost his way in the second, conceding the set in barely 41 minutes.
He appeared to give up in the third, making little effort to chase down Ferrer's hard-hit ground strokes, giving up the set in little more than half an hour.
Alberto Martin of Spain beat French wild card Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-4, helped by Monfils' six double faults. Monfils won wild card entry to the Auckland tournament when Australian Mark Philippoussis withdrew due to injury.
Unseeded Kristof Vliegen of Belgium beat Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia 7-6 (3), 6-0, taking the second set in only 17 minutes as Tipsarevic lost focus.
"The second was a good set for me," Vliegen said. "After winning the first set it gives you confidence while he lost a bit of confidence."
In other matches, Daniele Bracciali of Italy beat Gilles Simon of France 6-3, 6-2, Florent Serra of France beat Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 and Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany defeated Luis Horna of Peru 6-4, 7-5.