Marseille - Frenchman Richard Gasquet's rich run of form came to an abrupt halt on Tuesday as he was beaten in the first round of the Marseille Open, going down 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) to journeyman Gilles Muller of Luxembourg.
Gasquet, seeded five and one of five Top 10 players competing in Marseille, could only blame himself as he had battled back to one set all and led 5-2 in the decider, but wilted in the face of the risk-all approach of his left-handed opponent.
Muller, ranked 70th in the world, sealed victory on his first match point, putting in a brilliant return of serve before finishing it off with a volley.
It brought to an end a terrific run for Gasquet, who had won 15 of his previous 17 matches this year, collecting the titles at Doha and Montpellier to boot.
“I was a catastrophe from the moment I went 5-2 up,” admitted Gasquet.
“It is me who committed the mistakes. I was a little tired but at the same time I was eager to do well here. This match was not to be for me.
“The umpire was useless, I was useless, everyone was useless,” stormed the 26-year-old.
Muller's reward is a second round clash with gritty Spaniard Marcel Granollers, who beat another Frenchman the talented but injury-prone Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-4.
Gasquet's compatriot Benoit Paire, who was the beaten finalist in Montpellier, also bowed out, beaten by India's Somdev Devvarman, who has slumped to 354th in the rankings following an injury.
“I was sick and unable to get out of bed for two days,” said Paire.
“However, having played so feebly I cannot get out of here fast enough.”
It wasn't all doom and gloom for the home players as Michael Llodra eased through to the second round by beating Belgian David Goffin 6-2, 6-4.
Llodra, primarily known for his doubles play, set up a rematch of last year's final here with defending champion Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro, who is coming off a title win in Rotterdam last Sunday. - Sapa-AFP