Injury and upsets hit the ATP Auckland Classic on Wednesday, with illness forcing out top seed Roberto Bautista Agut and David Ferrer’s bid for a record fifth title ending with a whimper.
Sixth seed Feliciano Lopez also conceded a walkover, while John Isner and Marcos Baghdatis both flirted with disaster against unfancied second-round opponents.
The only seed to display any type of dominance was fourth seeded Jack Sock, who showed a clean pair of heels dispatching fellow American Ryan Harrison 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-1.
Defending champion Bautista Agut of Spain was the first to exit, pulling out of the Australian Open warm-up tournament with a stomach bug before hitting a ball in anger. His third-seeded compatriot Ferrer soon followed, shattering his dream of adding to the record of four Auckland titles he shares with Australian Rod Emerson.
Ferrer, a former world number three, now ranked 21st in the world, slumped to a loss after his trademark consistency deserted him against Dutchman Robin Haase. Ferrer began aggressively, creating three break-point chances in the fourth game but could not unable to convert any of them. He made no mistake when another opportunity presented itself two games later, running Haase around the court until the Dutchman sent a return long, then wrapped up the first set 6-2 after just 32 minutes. But it was his last period of dominance, as Haase hit back with a service break to open the second set and held on to the advantage as Ferrer’s error rate climbed.
The deciding set also began with a frustrated Ferrer conceding a break, although this time he broke back and forced a tie-breaker.
But Haase held his nerve and brought up two match points, needing only one of them when Ferrer netted a return and left the court dejected.
“At first I was a little bit off... then suddenly in the second set I was more relaxed and started to hit the ball a bit more comfortably and serve really well,” the Dutchman Sixth-seeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez conceded a walkover after suffering back spasms during his warm-up.
Second seed Isner, the champion in 2014 and 2010, had to survive match point in a third-set tie-break before overcoming Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (8/6). The big-serving American admitted he was rusty during his first outing of the season.
Eighth seed Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus also struggled against German wildcard Dustin Brown, coming from behind for a 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 victory.