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Kratochvil heading for top 50

Kratochvil is looking to maintain his impressive form in Hong Kong this week

(Keystone Archive)

Swiss number two Michel Kratochvil has celebrated a milestone victory at the ATP tennis tournament in Hong Kong. Tuesday's first round win over Spain's Francisco Clavet guarantees Kratochvil a place in the top 50 when the world rankings are published next week.

Kratochvil's latest victory was more significant than emphatic, with the Bernese player needing two tie-breaks to see off Clavet (7-6, 7-6).

Last week's ATP tournament in Shanghai was the main springboard for Kratochvil's leap up the rankings. By reaching his first final on the professional tour (losing to Germany's Rainer Schüttler), the Swiss number two was able to climb 14 places to his current position of 51st in the world.

Having had just one day's rest since Shanghai, Kratochvil said he was just relieved to have got back to winning ways on Tuesday.

"My legs were heavy and I didn't get any sleep last night," he said after the match. "So I'm unbelievably happy that I was still able to win."

Sixth Swiss to make top 50

Kratochvil is only the sixth Swiss tennis player to make it into the world's top 50. His predecessors are Heinz Günthardt, Claudio Mezzadri, Jakob Hlasek, Marc Rosset and current Swiss number one Roger Federer.

In the second round of the $400,000 Hong Kong tournament, Kratochvil was next expected to come up against world number 15 Andy Roddick, but the American teenage sensation picked up a foot injury during his first round match with Brazil's Andre Sa and was forced to withdraw.

As a result Kratochvil will now go into the second round as the favourite against Sa, who is ranked 109th in the world. However the only previous meeting between the two players did go the way of the Brazilian, who beat Kratochvil in four sets at last year's US Open.

Heuberger out in first round

Swiss number four Ivo Heuberger (ATP 122) failed to join Kratochvil in the second round of the Hong Kong tournament. After coming through the qualifying rounds, the 25-year-old from Altstätten was beaten in straight sets (6-7, 4-6) on Tuesday by another qualifier, America's Cecil Mamiit (ATP 113).

swissinfo with agencies

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