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Barcelona blunder

Kratochvil lost out to Cédric Pioline in three sets

(Keystone)

A series of costly errors has seen Switzerland's Michel Kratochvil crash out in the opening round of the ATP tennis tournament in Barcelona.

Currently ranked 40th in the world, the 22-year-old from Bern was beaten in three sets (4-6, 6-4, 2-6) by French veteran Cédric Pioline.

A former US Open and Wimbledon finalist, Pioline has since slumped to 114th place in the ATP rankings and had to come through the qualifying stages to reach Tuesday's first round match.

The Frenchman, ten years Kratochvil's senior, was helped into the second round however by some nervy moments on the part of his Swiss opponent.

Presented with two break points at 4-4, Kratochvil squandered both before losing his own service on the very next game. After taking a 5-1 lead in the second set, the Swiss number two then allowed Pioline to pull back to 4-5.

Having just managed to clinch that second set, Kratochvil was then unable to stay in contention in the third.

"I should have wrapped it up in two sets," the Swiss lamented afterwards. "I was feeling pretty good out there. I'm still suffering from a slight shoulder inflamation but it wasn't restricting me that much."

Coming in Barcelona, Tuesday's defeat will be all the more galling for Kratochvil. Last season the Swiss went all the way to the semi-finals at the Spanish event.

swissinfo with agencies


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