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Gasquet Slips Up In Basel; Del Potro Opens Title Defence

Basel, Switzerland

DelPo© AFP/Getty ImagesJuan Martin del Potro is the defending champion in Basel.

Following defeats for Tomas Berdych and Stanislas Wawrinka on Tuesday, Richard Gasquet became the third player to slip up in the Emirates ATP Race To London this week as he lost in the first round of the Swiss Indoors Basel on Wednesday.

The Frenchman was beaten 6-4, 6-2 by countryman Michael Llodra. Had Gasquet reached the semi-finals this week, he would have overtaken eighth-placed Wawrinka. The Top 9 players will qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, following Andy Murray's withdrawal. Three berths remain up for grabs after Berdych's qualification was confirmed today.

Gasquet will have one more chance to secure his spot at the season finale for the first time since 2007 when he competes on home soil at next week’s BNP Paribas Masters in Paris Bercy, an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament.

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The 33-year-old Llodra claimed his first tour-level win since Wimbledon as he won 72 per cent of his service points and broke Gasquet three times, triumphing in 70 minutes. He is bidding to reach his first ATP World Tour quarter-final since February at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier and goes on to face Paul-Henri Mathieu, who defeated Denis Kudla 6-4, 7-5.

Top seed and defending champion Juan Martin del Potro, who has already secured his place at the Final Showdown in London, defeated Swiss wild card Henri Lakksonen 6-4, 6-4. Del Potro converted three of his seven break points to claim victory in 80 minutes. The Argentine defeated Roger Federer in last year's Basel final.

The 25-year-old del Potro is closing on his 300th match win and improved to a 298-120 record. The Argentine, who goes on to face Marcos Baghdatis, has reached the final at his past two tournaments, winning the Tokyo title (d. Raonic) and finishing runner-up in Shanghai (l. to Djokovic).

These strong performances boosted del Potro into the elite group of players participating in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, held 4-11 November in London. "The [season finale] is like a gift of my season. Everyone wants to be there but only eight players get to be part of a fantastic show," said del Potro. "It's going to be my fourth time at the event. I always play good tennis there. Hopefully if I am healthy, I can have a good tournament."

Canadian Vasek Pospisil marked his Basel debut with a 6-4, 6-4 win over last week’s Vienna runner-up Robin Haase.

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