Daniel Brands booked a date with top seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as he sent a second home player to a first-round defeat on Tuesday at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, Austria.
Brands won his opening challenge 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) against 2010 finalist Andreas Haider-Maurer.
The German staged the biggest coup of his career in July when he beat Roger Federer in the second round of the Credit Agricole Suisse Open Gstaad after losing to the Swiss player the week before at the Bet-at-Home Open in Hamburg, Germany.
Australian Lleyton Hewitt’s Vienna debut lasted for 95 minutes as the former No. 1 lost to Canadian Vasek Pospisil 7-6 (8/6), 6-4 in the first round.
Hewitt has been troubled by a wrist problems, but decided to take his chances in Vienna. He is due to have the injury checked out fully when he returns to Australia.
The 32-year-old never got his game cranked up in the face of a dozen aces from his opponent, who won a tiebreaker first set and broke to start the second.
Hewitt could not convert on a pair of set points deep into the tiebreak.
“It was a tough match and conditions were a lot different than they’ve been the last few weeks in Asia,” said Pospisil, who is ranked 40th and hoping to advance enough in the rankings to claim an Australian Open seeding.
Brands now has the chance to start reversing a run of poor form since his upset of Federer three months ago by taking another top 10 scalp in a dream scenario against Tsonga.
French top seed Tsonga is bidding to secure a spot in next month’s season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London and stands provisional ninth with this week and two more to play in the regular ATP season.
With Andy Murray missing the season wrapup as he heals after back surgery, the leading nine point-scorers will comprise the London field.
Tsonga will go into opening action in the second round after reaching the Shanghai Masters semi-final at the weekend, but he will need to have jet lag and general fatigue under control.
The Frenchman must also keep close watch on fragile knees as he plays in his fourth event of the past five weeks in the mad rush to qualify for London.
Brands won his sixth career match in Vienna after reaching the semis two years ago as a qualifier.
Tsonga has beaten Brands in both of their previous meetings, including a semi-final in Vienna in 2011.
Elsewhere at the Stadthalle, Bosnian qualifier Mirza Basic beat the US’ Michael Russell 6-3, 6-4, while Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium stopped Czech Jan Hajek 6-2, 6-0.
Austrian Dominic Thiem beat Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 and next plays drawcard Gael Monfils, while Miloslav Mecir Jr won his opening match after qualifying as he beat Spain’s Pablo Andujar 6-4, 6-4.
Jack Sock of the US beat Australia’s Bernard Tomic in straight sets on Tuesday to set up a second-round match with No. 1 seed David Ferrer at the Stockholm Open.
The 21-year-old Sock finished off Tomic 6-4, 6-2 in just less than an hour.
Fifth-seeded Ernests Gulbis of Latvia had more of a struggle as he advanced with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7/3) victory over Jeremy Chardy of France.
Sweden’s Joachim Johansson pleased the home crowd by beating Alejandro Falla of Colombia 6-1, 6-3.
Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov also won their first-round matches.