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Two-time Former Champion Nalbandian Crashes Out

Estoril, Portugal

Paul Capdeville© AFP/Getty ImagesPaul Capdeville

Chilean Paul Capdeville recorded one of the biggest wins of his eight-year professional career at the Estoril Open on Monday, defeating two-time former champion and No. 5 seed David Nalbandian 6-2, 6-2 in just 54 minutes.

Capdeville, 26, converted five of six break point opportunities and won 30 of 39 service points. This year’s Vina del Mar quarter-finalist (l. to Cuevas), who has a 4-5 tour-level record, will next meet Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina in the second round.

Nalbandian, who was clearly suffering from heat exhaustion as temperatures reached 34°C on Court Central in his first match since suffering a hip injury in Barcelona 11 days ago, won just three points on first serve and nine service points overall in the pair’s first meeting.

“My preparation coming to Estoril was as good as possible but limited due to my ongoing injury,” said Nalbandian. “I did everything I could to recover on time to play this tournament and I believe I arrived in the best shape possible given the circumstances.

“I like this tournament and it is unfortunate I couldn’t show my best tennis. Today I just couldn’t move well and never found my rhythm. The injury still bothers me. I have to keep working on getting better.”

The 27-year-old Cordoba resident made his first opening-round loss in Estoril, since falling to Franco Squillari in 2000. The World No. 19, who lifted the 2002 (d. Nieminen) and 2006 (d. Davydenko) trophies, drops to 14-7 on the 2009 ATP World Tour season. In January, Nalbandian won his 10th title at Sydney (d. Nieminen).

Top seed Gilles Simon, a French wild card entry, booked his place in the second round after defeating Robert Kendrick of the United States 6-3, 7-6(7) in one hour and 34 minutes on Centralito.  The 24 year old hit four aces, won 60 per cent of service points and saved five of eight break points in the pair’s first meeting.

Simon fought back from a 1-4 deficit in the tie-break and saved one set point at 5-6, when Kendrick stopped playing after a ball looked to be long of the baseline. The umpire came down from his chair, checked the mark left on the clay surface and declared the ball in. Moments later No. 8-ranked Simon wrapped up his 16th win of the 2009 ATP World Tour season, highlighted by two semi-final exits at Marseille (l. to Llodra) and Dubai (l. to Djokovic).

Kendrick, 29, dropped to 1-5 lifetime on clay courts following his first appearance in Estoril.

Simon will next meet either 2005 champion and fellow wild card Gaston Gaudio of Argentina, who won an ATP Challenger Tour title in Tunis, Tunisia (d. Gil) last week, or Fabio Fognini of Italy.

Sixth-seeded American Mardy Fish improved to 3-0 lifetime against Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 49 minutes. The Florida resident, who played golf with his wife Stacey Gardner at the Oitavos course on Sunday, has a 14-9 season record that includes one ATP World Tour trophy in Delray Beach (l. to Korolev) and a runner-up finish in San Jose (l. to Stepanek).

Elsewhere, France’s Marc Gicquel knocked out Pablo Andujar of Spain 7-6(6), 6-4 in one hour and 47 minutes. The World No. 51 has reached two ATP World Tour quarter-finals this year at Rotterdam (l. to Murray) and Casablanca (l. to Andreev). He improved to an 8-11 mark.

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©Lionel Maltese


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