Slovenia’s Bedene ruins homecoming for Argentine hero

AP, BUENOS AIRES

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 - Page 19

Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia ruined a homecoming for Horacio Zeballos on Monday, eliminating the Argentine 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 in the first round of the Copa Claro tournament in Buenos Aires.

Fifth-seeded Zeballos became a national hero just over a week ago when he defeated seven-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal in the final of the VTR Open in Chile. Expectations were high for him playing at home.

After winning the second-set tiebreaker, Bedene then broke Zeballos in the second game of the deciding set en route to victory.

“It was my first match since August, I think, on clay. So at the beginning I was confused,” Bedene said. “I’m really happy with my performance — first round, first win.”

Bedene apologized for spoiling the party at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club.

“Horacio is my good friend, so I feel sorry for him,” Bedene said. “But tennis is tennis and somebody has to win.”

The No. 2 seeded Nicolas Almagro defeated Argentine Guido Pella 6-3, 6-2 as the Spaniard makes a return to playing on clay in Latin America, two of his favorite things.

Last year, Almagro won on clay in Brazil and was the runner-up in Buenos Aires. In 2011, he won twice in Latin America — in Brazil and Buenos Aires — and was the runner-up in Acapulco, Mexico.

“This trip through Latin America has been very good for me in recent years,” Almagro said. “But every year is different.”

In other first-round matches, No. 4 seed Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil was ousted by Argentine Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, eighth-seeded Albert Ramos of Spain advanced with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Flavio Cipolla of Italy and Federico Delbonis of Argentina moved on with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Portugal’s Joao Sousa.

Top-seeded David Ferrer of Spain was due to play his first round match against Agustin Velotti yesterday.

OPEN 13

AP, MARSEILLE, France

Seventh-seeded Jerzy Janowicz of Poland and Bernard Tomic of Australia reached the second round of the Open 13 in contrasting fashions on Monday.

Janowicz, who came through the qualifiers to reach the Paris Masters final last year, sealed the first set in just 25 minutes and broke again at the start of the second to take complete control and beat Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4.

Tomic had a tougher time before overcoming eighth-seeded Martin Klizan of Slovakia 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (9/7) in a match which saw Tomic hit 11 aces to Klizan’s 10 and both players drop serve twice.

Janowicz next meets the winner of an all-French match between Julien Benneteau and wild-card entry Lucas Pouille, while Tomic takes on either Frenchman Benoit Paire or Somdev Devvarman of India.