Frank Dancevic recorded his biggest triumph in more than a year when he upset top-seeded Feliciano Lopez in the first round of the SA Tennis Open on Wednesday. The 26-year-old from Niagara Falls, Ont., dispatched the defending champion from Spain, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 7-6 (8) in a two-hour eight-minute tussle broken by rain. Dancevic, ranked more than 200 places below Lopez, called it his biggest win since back surgery in late 2009 had sidelined him for 10 months. “I really thought I didn’t have much chance against Feliciano, he’s the defending champion,” Dancevic said. “Tennis is a funny game. Anyone can beat anyone on any given day. That’s the way it is on the Tour these days.” Dancevic’s victory came a day after Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., defeated second-seeded Yen-hsun Lu of Taiwan.
Lopez was among four seeded players who lost Wednesday. Third-seeded Janko Tipsarevic and seventh-seeded Rainer Schuettler were also beaten in the opening round, while eighth-seeded Michal Przysiezny was downed in straight sets by South Africa’s Rik de Voest in the second round. That leaves only two seeded players — No. 4 Kevin Anderson and No. 6 Adrian Mannarino — still standing in Johannesburg.
Lopez saved three match points against the unseeded Dancevic in the deciding tiebreaker, but then sent a simple backhand on his only match point into the net with Dancevic out of position. The Canadian rallied to win it 10-8. Lopez failed to convert any of his 10 breakpoint opportunities. “When you miss a lot of chances, this is what happens,” Lopez said. “I just missed so many chances. I didn’t like the first round (draw). Dancevic is so dangerous. He is very talented.”
Earlier Wednesday, Schuettler, like Lopez and Tipsarevic, wasted an early lead for the German to fall 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 to Go Saeda of Japan. Jesse Huta Galung of the Netherlands, ranked No. 120, ousted the No. 51-ranked Tipsarevic 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (4) in a rain-delayed match held over from Tuesday. “Everything went wrong today,” Tipsarevic said. “All respect to my opponent, but this is one of my worst performances in a long time. All the decisions I made went wrong.” Huta Galung’s joy was short-lived as he then lost to India’s Somdev Devvarman in the second round in his second match on day three. Dudi Sela of Israel got past Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 in another first-round match held over from Tuesday and South African wild card Fritz Wolmarans hit 25 aces to beat Dutch player Igor Sijsling 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Slovakia’s Karol Beck recorded a straight sets win over Brian Dabul of Argentina for a place in the second round before the seeded players tumbled.
De Voest, another South African wild card entrant, was 4-1 down in the second set against Przysiezny before reeling off five straight games for a 6-3, 6-4 win over the Pole to become the first player to reach the last eight, his first ATP quarter-final.