France's surprise Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga suffered a disappointing return to France on Wednesday as he was beaten 7-5, 7-6 (7/3) by Croatian Mario Ancic in the first round of the Marseille Open.
The 22-year-old seventh seed was never able to settle against Ancic, who has slipped from the top 10 to 135 in the world following a year of injury and suffering from glandular fever.
Tsong said he had been powerless in the face of Ancic's all round game.
"He [Ancic] played really well, served really well throughout and was very difficult to break," Tsonga said. "It was my first tournament in France since the Australian Open and I really wanted to play well."
Tsonga did have a great chance to close out the first set when leading 5-4 and 30-0 on Ancic's serve, but the 23-year-old Croat powered down a series of stunning serves to save the game.
Ancic then broke Tsonga for good measure in the next game and closed out the set.
The second set followed almost the same pattern in being a battle of big servers, with Ancic sealing victory in the tie-break.
Tsonga was almost a lone example of a Frenchman losing on Wednesday as second seed Richard Gasquet, titleholder Gilles Simon and Michael Llodra progressed.
France's red letter day ended on a high as Nicolas Mahut ousted fifth seeded Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero, the 44th ranked Frenchman prevailing in a three set thriller, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (7/1) in two-and-a-half hours.
Top seed Novak Djokovic entered the fray in another evening match and showed no signs of the dizziness and nausea that plagued him in his Davis Cup rubber last Sunday, easing to a 6-1, 6-4 win over Croatian qualifier and world ranked 296th Ivan Dodig.
■ HANTUCHOVA SURVIVES
Third seed Daniela Hantuchova survived a tough test against a local teenager before overcoming 163rd-ranked Yanina Wickmayer 6-4, 6-3 on Wednesday at the WTA Diamond Games.
The 24-year-old Slovak reached the quarter-finals, but not without difficulty against an inspired opponent with the crowd on her side.
Hantuchova couldn't take control of the first set until the final game, when she broke the 18-year-old Wickmayer.
She broke again for 4-2 before finally sprinting to the finish, saving a break point in the final game.
She will next face China's ninth seed Li Na, who beat another Slovak in Domenika Cibulkova, 6-4, 6-3.
Li rallied from 1-4 down in the first set against the teenager from Bratislava.
Li then took the contest by the throat, finishing to take her place in the last eight.
Fourth seed Patty Schnyder beat Japan's Ai Sugiyama 6-3, 6-4.
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