Frenchman Richard Gasquet’s rich vein of form came to an abrupt halt on Tuesday when he was beaten in the first round of the Marseille Open, going down 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) to journeyman Gilles Muller of Luxembourg.
Gasquet, seeded fifth and one of five top 10 players competing in Marseille, could only blame himself as he had battled back to one set all and led 5-2 in the decider, but wilted in the face of the risk-all approach of his left-handed opponent.
Muller, ranked 70th in the world, sealed victory on his first match point, putting in a brilliant return of serve, before finishing it off with a volley.
It brought to an end a terrific run for Gasquet, who had won 15 of his previous 17 matches this year, collecting the titles in Doha and Montpellier, France, to boot.
“I was a catastrophe from the moment I went 5-2 up,” Gasquet said. “It is me who committed the mistakes. I was a little tired, but at the same time I was eager to do well here. This match was not to be for me.”
“The umpire was useless, I was useless, everyone was useless,” the 26-year-old said.
Muller’s reward is a second-round clash with gritty Spaniard Marcel Granollers, who beat another Frenchman, the talented, but injury-prone Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-4.
Gasquet’s compatriot Benoit Paire, who was the beaten finalist in Montpellier, also bowed out, beaten by India’s Somdev Devvarman, who has slumped to 354th in the world rankings following an injury.
“I was sick and unable to get out of bed for two days,” Paire said. “However, having played so feebly I cannot get out of here fast enough.”
It was not all doom and gloom for the home players as Michael Llodra eased through to the second round by beating Belgium’s David Goffin 6-2, 6-4.
Llodra, primarily known for his doubles play, set up a rematch of last year’s final with defending champion Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, who is coming off a title win in Rotterdam, Netherlands, at the weekend.
AP, BUENOS AIRES
Third seed Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland defeated Paolo Lorenzi 6-3, 6-3 on Tuesday to reach the second round of the Copa Claro clay-court tournament in Buenos Aires.
Wawrinka dominated the Italian throughout the match and closed out with a forehand down the line.
“I feel great,” Wawrinka said. “I got through in two sets. I feel on a good level for the first [match].”
Wawrinka has been studying Spanish and was asked to test out his progress.
“I’ve improved a little bit,” he said in English. “Only if I make the final I will try to speak in Spanish. It’s not easy. Too much pressure.”
Top seed David Ferrer’s late match against Agustin Velotti was postponed after rain earlier pushed the schedule back, leaving only a few hundred fans on hand at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club.
In a slight upset, No. 7 Pablo Andujar of Spain was beaten in the first round by countryman Albert Montanes 5-7, 6-2, 6-4.
In other first-round results on Tuesday, Julian Reister of Germany defeated Martin Alund of Argentina 7-5, 6-1, while Tommy Robredo of Spain advanced against Gastao Elias of Portugal 6-3, 6-0.
Spain’s Daniel Gimeno-Traver defeated Dusan Lajovic of Serbia 6-4, 7-5, while Leonardo Mayer of Argentina beat Simone Bolelli of Italy 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 and Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia beat Filippo Volandri of Italy 7-6 (7/5), 6-3.