Shock exit for Spanish heart throb Lopez
Johannesburg: Top seed and Spanish heart throb Feliciano Lopez made a shock first round exit from the South African Open after losing a three-set thriller to Canadian Frank Dancevic.
The 26-year-old victor, ranked 201 places below the defending champion, won 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 7-6 (10/8) in a match interrupted by rain for two hours during an absorbing final set.
"I am very happy and having fun. The fact that most of the crowd were behind Feliciano did not bother me because I was focused on the match and nothing else. Maybe they will support me now," said Dancevic.
On a bad day for seeds, third Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia lost 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 6-7 (4/7) to Jesse Huta Galung of the Netherlands and seventh Rainer Schuettler of Germany fell 6-3, 4-6, 4-6 to Japanese Go Soeda.
Number two Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan and number five Florent Serra of France made early exits Tuesday, leaving just three of eight seeds in the second round of the 442,500-dollar ATP event.
The last-16 phase began later as the organisers played catch-up after two days of weather delays and South Africans Rik de Voest and Izak van der Merwe triumphed along with Indian Davis Cup star Somdev Devvarman.
Reigning Commonwealth Games and Asian Games champion Devvarman took advantage of a much longer gap between matches to eliminate Huta Galung 6-3, 6-4 victory on one of two outside courts.
Lopez, a 29-year-old favourite with female spectators at Montecasino entertainment centre in a plush northern Johannesburg suburb, began impressively against a casual Dancevic.
The tall, swarthy Spaniard with two ATP titles to his credit won most of his service games comfortably while Dancevic often held serve with considerable difficulty.
But the outsider did drag the opening set to a tie breaker won by Lopez and this boosted his confidence sufficiently for him to break serve twice en route to a 6-2 second-set success.
After 12 games with serve in the decisive set, Dancevic wasted three match points in the tie breaker and Lopez one before the Canadian made no mistake when he got a fourth chance and broke the serve of the Spaniard.
So calm when the match began, Lopez flung his racquet on the ground as the centre court duel reached a climax, visibly stung by the resistance of a rival who did not make it past the first qualifying round for the Australian Open.
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