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Sports

February 15, 2018

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Pouille, Wawrinka suffer early exit

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands: Last week’s Montpellier champion Lucas Pouille exited in his opening match at the Rotterdam Open on Wednesday, losing 7-5, 6-4 to Andrey Rublev.

The Russian was joined in the second round at the Ahoy Arena by Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France, who advanced after just 15 minutes when compatriot Richard Gasquet, the Montpellier finalist, retired with a groin injury trailing 3-1.

Top seed Roger Federer is expected on court later on Wednesday as he launches his bid for a return to the world’s number one ranking against Belgian Ruben Bemelmans in a first-time meeting. The 36-year-old Federer could become the oldest man by three years to hold the number one spot if he reaches the semi-finals at an event he has won twice. Pouille lost in 93 minutes, hitting a dozen aces in defeat but losing serve four times.

The 34th-ranked Rublev owns his only career title from Umag last summer on clay. Herbert will play Russian Daniil Medvedev in the second round. Meanwhile, three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka blew a one-set lead to fall 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to unfancied Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor in a first-round shock at the Rotterdam Open on Tuesday. The Swiss fifth seed slumped to another surprise defeat by an outsider, after losing in the Australian Open second round to Tennys Sandgren and in last week’s Sofia Open semi-finals to Bosnian Mirza Basic.

The 32-year-old Wawrinka, the 2015 Rotterdam winner, is struggling to regain top form after a pair of summer knee operations. The Swiss has now lost three matches and won three since returning in January.

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