Injury and upsets hit the ATP Auckland Classic yesterday — while Taiwanese hope Lu Yen-hsun was eliminated — with illness forcing out top seed Roberto Bautista-Agut and David Ferrer’s bid for a record fifth title ending with a whimper.
Steve Johnson of the US defeated Lu 6-4, 7-6 (7/4).
The world No. 33 won in 1 hour, 28 minutes, winning 52 of the 100 points contested.
Lu posted a Chinese-language report on Facebook that said Johnson won most of the key points and had luck on his side.
Lu said after the game that he had not played badly and he was confident heading to Melbourne for the Australian Open starting on Monday next week, according to the report.
Sixth seed Feliciano Lopez conceded a walkover, while John Isner and Marcos Baghdatis both flirted with disaster against unfancied second-round opponents.
The only seed to display any type of dominance was fourth-seeded Jack Sock, who showed a clean pair of heels dispatching fellow American Ryan Harrison 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-1.
Defending champion Bautista-Agut of Spain was the first to exit, pulling out of the Australian Open warm-up tournament with a stomach bug.
His third-seeded compatriot Ferrer soon followed, shattering his dream of adding to the record of four Auckland titles he shares with Australian Rod Emerson.
Ferrer slumped to a loss after his trademark consistency deserted him against Dutchman Robin Haase.
“At first I was a little bit off ... then suddenly in the second set I was more relaxed, and started to hit the ball a bit more comfortably and serve really well,” the Dutchman said.
Sixth-seeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez conceded a walkover after suffering back spasms during his warm-up.
Second seed Isner survived match point in a third-set tiebreak before overcoming Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (8/6), while eighth seed Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus struggled against German wild-card Dustin Brown, coming from behind for a 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 victory.
Additional reporting by staff writer
Gilles Muller beat the heat to be one match away from a third straight semi-final appearance at the Apia International in Sydney following a big-serving victory over Australian Matt Barton yesterday.
The sixth seed from Luxembourg prevailed over Barton 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 as temperatures nudged 42oC to reach the quarter-finals.
Muller faces Uruguayan second seed Pablo Cuevas, who overcame Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.
German fifth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber knocked out Australian Jordan Thompson 7-5, 6-4 and faces two-time defending champion Viktor Troicki, who defeated Paolo Lorenzi 6-3, 6-4.
In the women’s singles, Eugenie Bouchard reached her first semi-final for 10 months as she battled intense heat to down higher-ranked Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
The former Wimbledon finalist wore down the 27th-ranked Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-3 in 76 minutes to book a semi with Britain’s world No. 10 Johanna Konta.
Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki went down in a punishing 3 hour, 20 minute battle with Barbora Strycova 7-5, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4.
Chen Ti and Yi Chu-huan advanced to the second round of the men’s doubles at the Bangkok Open yesterday.
The Taiwanese pair defeated Belgian Germain Gigounon and Axel Michon of France 5-7, 6-2, 10-7 in 1 hour, 17 minutes.
They face Italian Alessandro Bega and Yannick Mertens of Belgium in the second round of the Challenger event.