Frenchman Richard Gasquet became the first high-profile casualty at the Shanghai Masters yesterday, losing his first-round encounter to Vasek Pospisil as the organizers scrambled to keep the storm-hit tournament on track.
The tame 6-3, 6-4 defeat for the ninth seed deals a heavy blow to his hopes of reaching next month’s ATP World Tour Finals in London, which feature the season’s top eight players. Gasquet is currently ninth in the Race to London.
Canada’s Pospisil, ranked 43rd in the world, broke Gasquet in the fourth game of the first set and again at the start of the second in a match lasting 69 minutes, with the Frenchman unable to earn a single break point.
Persistent rain — the lingering effects of Typhoon Fitow — forced the matches onto indoor courts at the Qizhong Tennis Center, with tournament chiefs attempting to make up for lost time the previous day. The wet weather meant a number of changes to the schedule throughout the day, with doubles matches postponed in an effort to complete all the first-round singles matches before the likes of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal make their entrance.
Veteran Lleyton Hewitt lost 6-4, 6-2 to Andreas Seppi, missing the chance of a second-round match against old rival Roger Federer.
Hewitt, 32, who has slipped out of the world’s top 50, started strongly, breaking at the first opportunity and taking a 3-0 lead, but Seppi withstood the charge, winning five games in a row to seize the initiative.
The Australian wild-card showed only occasional glimpses of his fighting ability as world No. 22 Seppi cut down on his error count and broke Hewitt twice at the start of the second set.
“He played a lot better,” Hewitt said. “He hardly missed a ball after the first three games. I had chances to go up four-love. From then on, he played really well. He served better than I’ve seen him serve before.”
“I served in patches. Probably when I was down break points and stuff, I didn’t get enough first serves in,” Hewitt added. “He’s such a tough player to play when the ball is on his terms.”
There were also wins yesterday for Spainish trio Feliciano Lopez, Tommy Robredo and Nicolas Almagro, Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber and Daniel Brands, South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, Italy’s Fabio Fognini and France’s Benoit Paire.
Additional reporting by staff writer