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Kratochvil beaten in Basel after strong start

Michel Kratochvil lost a tough match to Morocco's Hicham Arazi Keystone

Berne's Michel Kratochil suffered a first round defeat at the Swiss Indoors tennis tournament on Wednesday. The 21-year-old was beaten in three sets by Morocco's Hicham Arazi, a player 91 places above Kratochvil in the world rankings.

There was no sign of any difference in class between the two players as the match got underway however. And after a tightly fought start, it was Kratochvil who nosed ahead.

Good fortune and a lapse of concentration on his opponent’s part helped the Swiss player take an important lead in the sixth game. Two wayward ground-strokes from Arazi had gifted Kratochvil three break points. A fortunate bounce off the net cord was then enough to see Kratochvil win the first break of the match.

Playing deep ground-strokes and serving impressively, Kratochvil gave the Moroccan no room to manoeuvre as he closed out the first set 6-3.

Arazi stepped up a gear in the second set, though, and it was Kratochvil who was this time forced to play catch-up after being broken to love in the second game of the set. It wasn’t until the last game of the set that the Swiss player had his first chance to break Arazi, but the Moroccan successfully defended the point before levelling the tie at 3-6, 6-3.

Kratochvil’s chances of staging a comeback in the deciding set took an early battering as Arazi broke him to love once more in the set’s opening game. A series of unforced errors coupled with some dazzling play from Arazi then saw Kratochvil broken again in the set’s fifth game.

Arazi’s service play had become almost flawless by now, the Moroccan dropping just three points in his four service games. After a promising start by Kratochvil the eventual result seemed almost inevitable, with the Swiss youngster finally beaten 6-3, 3-6, 2-6.

Kratochvil’s defeat ensured that he would not be joining the Swiss number one Roger Federer in the tournament’s second round.

Federer booked his place with a straight sets win over Germany’s Tommy Haas on Tuesday. The Swiss number one’s next opponent will be Romania’s Andrei Pavel who beat France’s Stéphane Huet on Wednesday.

Switzerland’s George Bastl must overcome a tough challenge if he is to join Federer in the second round. The Swiss number three has been drawn against the tournament’s eighth seed, South African Wayne Ferreira.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR