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Gasquet Falls in First Round to World No. 111 Qualifier

Rome, Italy

Richard Gasquet © Getty ImagesRichard Gasquet in Rome

Peruvian qualifier Luis Horna snapped a two-month losing streak with a shock 6-4, 6-1 victory over ninth seed Richard Gasquet of France (pictured) at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, an ATP Masters Series event in Rome, on Monday.

World No. 111 Horna won 78 per cent of service points in the 61-minute win, while Gasquet failed to create a single break point opportunity and drops to 2-3 lifetime at the Foro Italico.

The Frenchman is the only Top 10 player not to reach an ATP quarterfinal this year. The last time he lost to a player ranked outside of the Top 100 of the South African Airways ATP Rankings was on Davis Cup duty against No. 118 Andrei Pavel of Romania in February 2007.

The 27-year-old Horna, who reached the Acapulco semifinals in February (l. to Nalbandian) improves to 10-14 against Top 10 players. He will next meet either Russian Dmitry Tursunov or Jose Acasuso of Argentina in the second round.

Another qualifier, 20-year-old Russian Evgeny Korolev, picked up a win in his Rome debut as he defeated Swede Robin Soderling, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4. The 98th-ranked Korolev opened his 2008 clay campaign by reaching the Valencia semifinals last month. He awaits the winner between 2007 finalist Fernando Gonzalez of Chile and Serb Janko Tipsarevic.

World No. 49 Steve Darcis, who captured his second career ATP title at Memphis in February (d. Soderling), improved to 9-7 this year after knocking out Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia 7-5, 7-6(5) in two hours and three minutes.

Former quarterfinalist Ljubicic hit 11 aces, but could only convert one of seven break point opportunities. He suffers his third successive exit in the opening round. Darcis will next meet Australian Open and ATP Masters Series Indian Wells winner Novak Djokovic, the Serbian World No. 3.

Nineteen-year-old Marin Cilic became the second Croat to bow out in first round action as he fell to Italy's Potito Starace, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in two hours and 12 minutes. Starace has reached three clay court ATP quarterfinals this season, and also won the Napoli Challenger in his home country last month.

Last year in Rome, Starace defeated Agustin Calleri and past champion Juan Carlos Ferrero before losing the World No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko in the third round.

 Czech Radek Stepanek (pictured right) won 41 of 46 points on first serve to beat Jarkko Nieminen of Finland for the second time in his career at the second ATP Masters Series event played on clay of the year.

The World No. 27, who reached the San Jose final in February, defeated No.25-ranked Nieminen 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in one hour and 45 minutes for a place in the second round against last week's Barcelona finalist David Ferrer, the World No. 5.

Russian Igor Andreev scored only his second win in four visits to Rome, after hitting seven aces to beat Korean Hyung-Taik Lee 6-4, 7-5 in 84 minutes, and will next confront No. 13 seed Juan Monaco, a 6-0, 6-4 winner over Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas.

World No. 26 Andreev, who has reached four ATP quarterfinals at Buenos Aires (l. to Acasuso), Dubai (l. to Djokovic) and ATP Masters Series events at Miami (l. to Berdych) and Monte-Carlo (l. to Davydenko) improves to 14-13 this year.

Monaco, currently ranked No. 14, has a 17-8 season record highlighted by a runner-up finish in Vina del Mar (W/O vs Gonzalez), semifinals in Auckland (l. to Kohlschreiber) and quarterfinal in Valencia (l. to Almagro).

Play was suspended for 65 minutes mid-afternoon due to rain.

 

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