Kratochvil salvages Swiss pride
Bern's Michel Kratochvil provided some comfort for Swiss tennis fans on Tuesday, reaching the second round in Gstaad with a three sets victory over Spanish qualifier Oscar Burrieza.
The Swiss number two (ATP 73) had to work unexpectedly hard against a player almost three hundred places below him in the world rankings. Having taken the first set 6-4, Kratochvil was pegged back in the second set, after losing a tie-break 7-3.
The 22-year-old Swiss player got the better of Burrieza in the deciding set, though, to complete a 6-4, 6-7, 6-1 win.
Stepping off court, Kratochvil probably thought his next opponent would be world number two Marat Safin but in a late surprise on Tuesday the Russian top seed was ousted from the first round by Spain's Juan Balcells.
Ranked just 11 places higher than Kratochvil in the ATP standings, the 26-year-old from Barcelona certainly presents a less daunting prospect than Safin. However, Balcells has proven himself a more than competent performer on clay.
The surface provided him with his first title win in Bucharest last season and he has also reached another four semi-finals on clay in the past 18 months.
While Kratochvil may have welcomed Safin's early departure, the Russian's exit comes as something as a blow to the Gstaad organisers. As well as losing all but one of its Swiss stars, the tournament is now without four of its eight seeded players.
Along with Safin and Federer, Hicham Arazi and Guillermo Coria also suffered first round defeats on Tuesday. Double Swiss Open winner Albert Costa was another surprise victim, the Spaniard falling to Austrian qualifier Werner Eschauer.
by Mark Ledsom, Gstaad
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