US Open champ Juan Martin del Potro falls to French qualifier in 1st round at Japan Open

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

US Open champ del Potro knocked out of Japan Open

TOKYO — U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro made a quick exit at the Japan Open.

He was knocked out in the first round of the Japan Open on Tuesday, losing 6-4, 6-4 to French qualifier Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

“I didn’t play my best tennis today,” said No. 1-seeded Del Potro. “I wasn’t feeling 100 percent and the other guy played a great game.”

Roger-Vasselin set up triple match point with a crosscourt backhand then wrapped up the match when Del Potro’s forehand return was long. Ranked 189th, he had nine aces against the fifth-ranked Argentine’s six.

“It’s unbelievable,” Roger-Vasselin said. “I didn’t expect this. It was tough in the first two games, and then I saw that he wasn’t playing that well and thought, why not today?”

Del Potro reached the final of last year’s Japan Open but clearly struggled with his game on Tuesday.

“I felt so happy after the U.S. Open,” Del Potro said. “We had a good celebration with family and friends in Argentina, but I am disappointed about today’s result. I have to keep improving.”

Roger-Vasselin said he benefited from the first meeting between the two players.

“I’m sure I knew him much better than he knew me,” said Roger-Vasselin. “This was a great match for me and obviously, not so good for him.”

In another first round match, Lleyton Hewitt defeated Tatsuma Ito 6-1, 7-5.

Top-ranked Roger Federer pulled out of the $1.2 million event, citing fatigue, along with third-ranked Andy Murray of Britain, who withdrew because of a wrist injury.

Defending champion Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic was to play later Tuesday against Japan’s Go Soeda.

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