Tennis bits: Robin Haase knocks off top seed in Estoril; Roger Federer picks up steam in Istanbul

World No 101 Robin Haase upset No 12 Feliciano Lopez, the top seed at the ATP Estoril tournament on Wednesday, as Roger Federer brushed off Jarkko Nieminen at the ATP Istanbul Open.

Robin Haase of the Netherlands returns a shot during his first round match at the ATP Estoril Open on Monday. Mario Cruz / EPA / April 27, 2015
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Agence France-Presse

ATP Estoril

Dutch underdog Robin Haase produced a superb comeback to knock out top seed Feliciano Lopez in the second round of the ATP Estoril Open on Wednesday 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4.

French fifth seed Richard Gasquet, playing his first event in six weeks after returning from a back injury, continued his comeback with a 6-2, 6-3 defeat of compatriot Kenny De Schepper.

The 28-year-old Gasquet had been enjoying a successful season prior to his injury, winning his 11th career title in Montpellier and reaching the last eight in both Doha and Dubai.

The two-time Estoril finalist (2007, 2012) will next face Spain’s Nicolas Almagro, who caused an upset as he beat Argentine fourth seed Leonardo Mayer 7-6 (7/4), 6-2, serving seven aces and breaking three times in the 89-minute win.

“I’m very happy with how I played this match,” said Gasquet.

“It’s always satisfying to win in straight sets.

“I’m still feeling good about my injury, it’s not bothering me, I felt I played better and served better than in the first round. I’m quite satisfied.

“Almagro will be a test for me, he’s one of the best on clay, very physical and playing well. We’ll just have to see how I can handle him.”

Haase will take on Australian seventh seed Nick Kyrgios, who beat Serb Filip Krajinovic 6-3, 6-3 in the first night session ever staged in the history of the tournament.

Lopez, an unorthodox Spanish serve-and-volleyer ranked 12 in the world, was motoring to what was looking like a routine straight-sets winning start when the wheels came off his game.

Haase saved two match points in the 12th game of the second set as he mounted his fightback.

He was broken twice while serving for victory in the second set, with the 101st-ranked Haase taking the set into a tiebreaker and levelling at a set each on the first of four set points.

Lopez’s previous superiority disappeared, and he was unable to regain the initiative and has now lost to the Dutchman in all three of their ATP meetings on clay.

Lopez was broken in the first game of the third set and was never able to close the gap on his inspired opponent, who moved into his first quarter-final since last July in Gstaad.

Haase needed just over two hours to ensure victory, with Lopez saving six of ten break points he faced.

“Tennis can be very sad sometimes,” said Lopez. “There will be days when you do all the right things and you lose anyway.

“Serving twice for the match, it’s not normal to lose like this. I should have closed it out, especially since I had a couple of match points.

“I played great for two sets, I was aggressive and charging the net. Unfortunately, that was not enough today.

“The match was close and I just couldn’t find a way to win in the end.”

Another Spanish seed joined Lopez on the sidelines, with No 3 Tommy Robredo withdrawing on the eve of his match on Thursday due to a left foot injury.

He was replaced in the draw by David Vega Hernandez, a lucky loser from qualifying rounds.

ATP Istanbul

World No 2 Roger Federer on Wednesday eased past fellow 33-year old, the Finn Jarkko Nieminen, with a dominant display to reach the quarter-finals of the ATP Istanbul Open.

Federer, showing flashes of brilliance mixed with occasional errors, closed out in just over an hour to win the second round match 6-2, 7-5.

The 17-time grand slam winner was making his first appearance in Turkey at the Istanbul Open, the first ever ATP world tour event in the country.

Federer, who is seeded to meet world No 11 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria in the final, is hoping to use the clay court event to fine tune his bid for a second French Open title next month.

He is looking for confidence on the slower clay, after a long hard court season, having lost in the third round on clay to Gael Monfils at the Monte Carlo Masters this month.

Federer raced through the first set in just 20 minutes, pulling out his full armoury of drop shots, cross court forehands and backhand winners against a clearly hesitant Nieminen, the world 71.

A stunning drop shot from Federer that fell dead inside the service court broke Nieminen’s serve in the fifth game and left the crowd gasping.

The crowd, who had braved heavy evening traffic to catch Federer play at the 8,000 capacity Garanti Koza arena on the outskirts of Istanbul, began to get behind the Finn to prolong the game.

Nieminen showed greater confidence in the second set, holding his serve with ease and an over-relaxed Federer spraying the ball wide regularly.

The Federer forehand was responsible for a string of unforced errors, allowing Nieminen to hold serve without trouble.

But Federer, serving and volleying on occasion and delivering nine aces in the match, found his top gear at the close of the set.

Piling pressure on the Nieminen second serve and using his trademark drive volley to great effect, Federer finally broke Nieminen to lead 6-5.

He then served out to love, finishing with a stunning backhand cross court that left Nieminen with arms and legs akimbo.

In Friday’s quarter-finals, Federer will face Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain who overcame Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin in straight sets.

Dimitrov meanwhile is due to start his campaign against Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan on Thursday.

Fourth seed Santiago Giraldo of Colombia went through to the quarters with a tough 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 win against 17-year-old Andrey Rublev of Russia.

WTA Marrakesh

Top-seeded Garbine Muguruza was upset on Wednesday in the WTA Marrakesh second round by France’s Kristina Mladenovic.

Rising Spanish 21-year-old star Muguruza, the world No 20, was dimissed in straight sets but both were only settled by tiebreaks. Mladenovic advanced 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (8/6).

World No 59 Mladenovic will face Lara Arruabarrena in the quarter-finals after she defeated eighth-seeded Monica Puig 7-5, 6-2.

Among the seeds to survive into the quarters on Wednesday were No 2 Timea Bacsinszky, No 3 Flavia Pennetta, No 4 Elina Svitolina and No 7 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

Sixth-seeded Roberta Vinci was knocked out by Karin Knapp.

The quarter-finals on Thursday will pit Pennetta and Timea Babos; Svitolina and Knapp; and Bacsinszky and Schmiedlova.

WTA Prague

On Wednesday local Czech favourite Lucia Safarova was unceremoniously dimissed in her opening match at the WTA Prague tournament, but subsequently avenged by a compatriot.

World No 13 Safarova was beaten by Tereza Smitkova 3-6, 6-2, 4-6 before the second-round match, played later in the daw, saw Lucie Hradecka advance to the quarter-finals with a drag-down, knock-out third-set tie-break against Smitkova 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (13/11).

Hradecka plays Klara Koukalova in the quarters.

Meanwhile another local hopeful, world No 22 Czech Barbora Strycova, made it to the quarter-finals to face off with Katerina Siniakova.

The other last eight matches will be contested between top-seed Karolina Pliskova and Denisa Allertova, and Danka Kovinic and Yanina Wickmayer.

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