Haas marches on in Duesseldorf
Veteran German Tommy Haas continued his recent rich vein of form by coming back to defeat Croatia’s Ivan Dodig in the ATP Duesseldorf Cup.
Second seed Haas, who won the recent BMW Open in Munich before reaching the third round in Rome, dropped the opening set 6-3 before edging two more tight sets to advance.
Haas' countryman and fourth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber was not so fortunate as he went down to Dutchman Igor Sijsling despite winning the opening set.
There were few problems for the other seeds with Juan Monaco, Viktor Troicki and Jarkko Nieminen all advancing to the third round.
And there were contrasting fortunes for the tall, big hitting Americans in Nice. Third seed Sam Querrey eased into the third round with a straight sets win over Sergiy Stakhovsky but fourth seed John Isner was dumped out by Dutchman Robin Haase despite winning the second set 6-1.
ATP Duesseldorf Cup results
Igor Sijsling (Netherlands) beat 4-Philipp Kohlschreiber (Germany) 3-6 6-3 6-4
Jan Hajek (Czech Republic) beat Daniel Brands (Germany) 6-1 6-0
2-Tommy Haas (Germany) beat Ivan Dodig (Croatia) 3-6 6-4 7-5
6-Jarkko Nieminen (Finland) beat Roberto Bautista (Spain) 6-4 5-7 6-3
7-Viktor Troicki (Serbia) beat Grega Zemlja (Slovenia) 6-3 7-6(3)
3-Juan Monaco (Argentina) beat Andre Ghem (Brazil) 6-4 6-4
Tobias Kamke (Germany) beat Aljaz Bedene (Slovenia) 6-1 6-4
Guido Pella (Argentina) beat 1-Janko Tipsarevic (Serbia) 7-6(1) 6-1
Zheng shocks Wozniacki in Belgium
China’s Zheng Jie sent top seed Caroline Wozniacki tumbling out of the WTA Brussels Open with a convincing 6-2 6-4 win.
There were few problems for the other seeded players on Wednesday, fourth seed Sloane Stephens completed her delayed match against Tsvetana Pironkova with a 6-3 2-6 6-3 win before beating Zhang Shuai 6-4 6-0 later on the same day. And seventh seed Varvara Lepchenko thrashed Britain's Elena Baltacha 6-2 6-0.
Fifth seeded Belgian Kirsten Flipkens also came through despite dropping the second set against American Madison Keys and there were more comfortable straight set wins for sixth seed Julia Goerges and eighth seed Peng Shuai who cruised through against Coco Vandeweghe and Sofia Arvidsson respectively.
There were also no big upsets in the second round of the WTA Strasbourg International although seventh seeded Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa had a slight wobble against American Shelby Rogers, dropping the opening set 6-2 before coming through.
WTA Brussels Open results
4-Sloane Stephens (U.S.) beat Zhang Shuai (China) 6-4 6-0
Romina Oprandi (Switzerland) beat 6-Julia Goerges (Germany) 6-3 0-0 (Goerges retired)
Zheng Jie (China) beat 1-Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) 6-2 6-4
8-Peng Shuai (China) beat Olga Govortsova (Belarus) 4-6 7-6(4) 7-6(4)
7-Varvara Lepchenko (U.S.) beat Elena Baltacha (Britain) 6-2 6-0
Andy Murray withdraws from Roland Garros
Britain's world number two Andy Murray has pulled out of the French Open after failing to recover from a lower back injury which he aggravated at the Italian Open last week.
"It's a really tough decision and I love playing in Paris, but after seeking medical advice, I am not fit to compete," Murray said in a statement released by his management company.
"Apologies to the organisers and thanks to everyone for the messages of support. Now my complete focus is on getting back on the court as soon as possible."
Murray retired injured in the Italian Open second round in Rome on his 26th birthday last Wednesday after levelling his match with Spaniard Marcel Granollers by winning the second set.
"I'd be very surprised if I were playing in Paris," he said after having treatment on court. "I want to make sure that it's something that I can sort out. It's not enjoyable to play now."
The French Open, which starts on May 26 at Roland Garros, will be the first Grand Slam Murray has missed since Wimbledon in 2007 when he had a wrist injury.
He will now focus on preparing for the grass court season and set his sights on being ready to play at Queen's Club, the warm-up event for Wimbledon starting on June 10.
Del Potro pulls out of Roland Garros
World number seven Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina has pulled out of next week's French Open tennis after failing to recover from a virus, Argentine media has reported.
Del Potro, who reached the quarter-finals at the claycourt Grand Slam event last year, flew home after losing to Frenchman Benoit Paire in the Rome Masters event last 16 last week.
"He has withdrawn," a French Federation spokesman told Reuters, confirming Argentine media reports.
"I am sad to miss such an important tournament, one that you always dream of winning," Del Potro was quoted as saying by the daily Ultima Hora's website (www.ultimahora.com).
Del Potro is the second top-10 player to withdraw from the French Open, which starts on Sunday at Roland Garros, after Briton Andy Murray announced he would miss the tournament because of a back injury.
Former world number seven Mardy Fish, 41st in the ATP rankings, and his fellow American Brian Baker, 71st, have also pulled out.
Bartoli and Paszek dumped out at first hurdle in Strasbourg
Top two seeds Marion Bartoli and Tamira Paszek were bounced out of the opening round in Strasbourg in straight sets.
No.1 seed Bartoli, who has had an inconsistent season to date, fell to a 6-3 6-2 defeat against Camila Giorgi.
The 21-year-old Italian is ranked 88th in the world and dominated to win in an hour and 19 minutes despite suffering an insane 16 double faults in the two sets. Bartoli served 10 doubles of her own.
The French world number 13 has lost as many matches as she has won this year and her career has been set back by injuries in recent times.
A former Wimbledon finalist, she will not be hopeful of challenging at her home Grand Slam at Roland Garros - where she was a semi-finalist in 2011 - as it starts this weekend.
Second seed Tamira Paszek's appalling season continued as she was ousted by wildcard Virginie Razzano.
The 22-year-old Austrian, twice a quarter-finalist at Wimbledon, has now lost 10 of her 11 matches in 2013 including all of her three matches on clay ahead of the French Open.
Frenchwoman Razzano, who shocked Serena Williams in the first round of the French last year, raced to a 6-1 6-4 victory in Germany after breaking her 28th-ranked opponent six times.
The 30-year-old player, ranked 178th in the world, was broken three times herself and dominated the stats in all areas.
Hewitt falls at first hurdle again
Lleyton Hewitt’s clay court season suffered another setback as the Australian suffered a second successive first round loss at the hands of Pablo Andujar at the Nice Open on Monday.
Hewitt slipped to a 6-3 4-6 6-3 defeat to his Spanish opponent, the loss following his three set loss to Martin Alund in the opening round in Texas.
Former Wimbledon and US Open Champion Hewitt has now only reached the third round once in his last eight events.
In other results, Taiwan’s Lu Yen-Hsun upset fifth seeded Andreas Seppi in three sets as Dutchman Robin Haase and Argentine Carlos Berlocq also advanced.
Nice Open Men's Singles Round 1 results
Victor Hanescu (Romania) beat Albert Ramos (Spain) 6-3 5-7 6-4
Pablo Andujar (Spain) beat Lleyton Hewitt (Australia) 6-3 4-6 6-3
Lu Yen-Hsun (Taiwan) beat 5-Andreas Seppi (Italy) 7-5 1-6 6-4
Robin Haase (Netherlands) beat Marinko Matosevic (Australia) 6-1 6-4
Carlos Berlocq (Argentina) beat Leonardo Mayer (Argentina) 6-2 6-1
Duesseldorf Cup Men's Singles Round 1 results
Guido Pella (Argentina) beat Lukasz Kubot (Poland) 6-4 4-6 6-4
Tobias Kamke (Germany) beat Benjamin Becker (Germany) 6-3 6-2
Roberto Bautista (Spain) beat Gilles Muller (Luxembourg) 2-6 6-4 6-2
6-Jarkko Nieminen (Finland) beat Lukas Lacko (Slovakia) 6-3 6-1
Andre Ghem (Brazil) beat Go Soeda (Japan) 6-4 6-0
Baltacha through in Brussels
Elena Baltacha booked her place in the second round of the Brussels Open after beating Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele in a tight match 7-6 7-5.
She will now face seventh seeded Varvara Lepchenko after the American saw off the challenge of Serbia’s Bojana Jovanovski despite dropping the second set.
In other results, Slovakia’s Jana Cepelova beat Lesia Tsurenko of the Ukraine in three tight sets and Belarus’ Olga Govortsova emerged victorious over Arantxa Rus of The Netherlands.
Fourth seeded Sloane Stephens will resume against Tsvetlana Pironkova on Tuesday after their match was suspended at 2-2 in the final set due to a lack of playable light. Stevens won the opening set 6-3 but Pironkova bounced back to win the second 6-2 before the light got too bad to continue.
Elsewhere, the opening round of the Internationaux De Strasbourg saw top seeded Serbian Vesna Dolonc crash out to American Shelby Rogers in straight sets and second seeded Italian Flavia Penetta recovered from a set down to beat Yulia Beygelzimer of the Ukraine.
Brussels Open Women's Singles Round 1 results
Elena Baltacha (GBR) beat Stefanie Voegele (Switzerland) 7-6 7-5
7-Varvara Lepchenko (USA) beat Bojana Jovanovski (Serbia) 6-2 6-7(8) 6-4
Jana Cepelova (Slovakia) beat Lesia Tsurenko (Ukraine) 5-7 6-3 7-5
Olga Govortsova (Belarus) beat Arantxa Rus (Netherlands) 6-2 7-5
Internationaux De Strasbourg Women's Singles Round 1 results
5-Shelby Rogers (USA) beat 1-Vesna Dolonc (Serbia) 6-4 6-2
2-Flavia Penetta (Italy) beat Yulia Beygelzimer (Ukrane) 5-7 6-1 6-4
Marta Domachowska (Poland) beat Carolin Daniels (Germany) 6-4 2-6 6-2
Magda Linette (Poland) beat Masa Zec-Peskiric (Slovakia) 6-2 6-0
Nadal destroys Federer to defend Rome Masters title
Rafael Nadal warmed up for French Open in perfect fashion, with a 6-1 6-3 demolition of Roger Federer to defend his Rome Masters title.
Nadal, who will move back up to fourth in the world when the new rankings are released on Monday, has now won seven titles in nine years in the Italian capital and has also picked up six titles (in eight tournaments) since returning from injury in February.
Alongside titles in Sao Paulo, Acapulco, Indian Wells, Barcelona, Madrid and now Rome, Nadal has also reached the finals of Vina del Mar (losing to Horacio Zeballos) and Monte Carlo (losing to Novak Djokovic) since he re-joined the ATP tour after seven months on the sidelines with his troublesome left knee injury.
The Mallorcan broke in the second, fourth and sixth games to race through the opening set in just 24 minutes. And he looked set to do the same in the second only for Federer to secure consecutive games in the dying stages.
But it was only a temporary blip from Nadal, who barely put a foot wrong all afternoon, and he wrapped up victory after 68 minutes with a forehand winner.