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Bastl shines in Basel

George Bastl blew away South Africa's Ferreira

(Keystone)

Swiss number three George Bastl pulled off a surprise win over South African eighth seed Wayne Ferreira in the first round of the Swiss Indoors tennis tournament on Wednesday.

A solid performance by Bastl coincided with some unusually sloppy play by the South African, who became the fourth seeded player to make an early exit from Switzerland's biggest annual sporting event.

Ferreira presented Bastl with two early break points in the sixth game of the match. The South African saved the first with an ace, but then threw away the second with a wild swing which saw the ball fly well over the baseline.

Good running play from Bastl then saw Ferreira broken once more on his next service game, allowing the 25-year-old Swiss player to take the first set 6-2.

In the second set Ferreira seemed to come apart. Smashing his racket into the ground after handing Bastl a break point, the South African then proceeded to double fault, gifting a 4-2 lead to the Swiss player.

After that Bastl had little difficulty completing an impressive 6-2, 6-3 victory against a player who is currently more than 70 places above him in the world rankings.

Speaking to swissinfo after the match, Bastl admitted that he had profited from an unusually weak display by Ferreira.

"I was able to take advantage from that to win the second set," he said. "That's the way it is sometimes. He made a few more mistakes than I did."

On Thursday Bastl will again step into the role of underdog when he faces Slovakia's Dominik Hrbaty, ranked 24th in the world. But for another Swiss player the tournament is already over, Berne's Michel Kratochvil having suffered a first round defeat at the hands of Morocco's Hicham Arazi.

The 21-year-old Swiss player made a fantastic start to the match, taking the first set 6-3. But as his opponent fought back, Kratochvil was unable to hold on, eventually losing 6-3, 3-6, 2-6.

"I had a break in concentration during the second set," Kratochvil told swissinfo after the match. "But I showed today that I can play at a higher level. I just need to be more consistent and work on my game."

Swiss number one Roger Federer will be back in action on Thursday as he bids for a place in the tournament semi-finals. The 19-year-old from Basel will be strong favourite to beat Romania's Andrei Pavel in front of a hometown crowd.

Pavel faced few difficulties on Wednesday in his first round encounter with Stéphane Huet. The Frenchman, ranked 111th in the world, was a late addition to the main draw following the late withdrawal through injury of top seed Magnus Norman.

by Mark Ledsom


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