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Malisse, Baker provide early upsets at Open

Published: 4:32PM Monday January 07, 2013 Source: ONE Sport

Slovak Martin Lizan and Poland's Jerzy Janowicz became the first seeds to tumble on centre court, as the Heineken Open began today.

Seventh-seed Lizan, named ATP Tour Newcomer of the Year for 2012, battled back from his first-set lapse to tighten the screws on frustrated rival Xavier Malisse, who seemed in danger of losing his composure through the second set.

But the Belgian veteran hung tough, winning the first three games of the third set to end Lizan's hopes of advancing to the second round on Wednesday, 7-6 3-6 6-3.He moves on to face either Go Soeda of Japan or Colombian Santiago Giraldo, who play their tournament opener tomorrow.    

"It's always nice when you win." said Malisse, ranked 62 in the world. "There is a lot of wind - it's tough to play.

"It's also my first match of the year, so I'm happy to go through."

But Lizan was quickly followed out the door by towering Janowicz, the fifth seed, who departed after an enthralling battle with ATP Tour Comeback Player of the Year Brian Baker.

Janowicz had the better of the early going, taking on the first set with a solitary break. But Baker came at him in the second, forcing seven break points, but still unable to make a dent until the tiebreak.

When the American eventually took the set, he seemed well on his way to victory and quickly broke his opponent twice in the third. But Janowicz came back, breaking back once and forcing eight match points before finally going down.

"It's huge," said Baker, who improved more than 400 rankings spots in 2012. "Last year was an ubelieveable year for me, but I didn't want to fall into the trap just to be happy with what I did - I want to keep moving forward and I know I have a lot of work to do.

"Matches like these, if you can close them out, will hopefully build some confidence for the future."  

Baker now meets the winner betwwen Kiwi Dan King-Turner and qualifer Jesse Levine of Canada.

Earlier, Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci became the first seed to survive examination, defeating another Belgian, David Goffin, in straight sets.

Goffin jumped out to an early start and appeared on course for an early upset, but Bellucci - a regular at the Auckland tournament - rallied to take the first set in a tiebreak, before cruising through the second 6-2.

Bellucci's reward is an encounter with either Lukas Lacko of Slovkia or Italian Paolo Lorenzi.

Another fan favourite to successfully negotiate the first round was last year's runner-up - Belgian Olivier Rocchus - who needed a wild card entry for the main draw this year. The human dynamo ran for 2h 14m to turn back Spaniard Albert Ramos and now faces fourth-seeded American Sam Querry in the second round.

The final four qualifiers for the main draw were decided, with Levine, German Benjamin Becker, Dutchman Igor Sijsling and Aussie Greg Jones progressing to the first round.

Becker defeated Czech Lukas Rosol, Sijsling topped countryman Matwe Middelkoop and Levine headed Dane Frederick Neilsen, all in straight sets, but Jones needed three to overcome Romanian Victor Hanescu.

Becker gets perhaps the toughest draw against dangerous French wildcard Gael Monfils, a former world No 7 whose ranking slipped to 99 last year due to a knee injury.

Jones will take on sixth seed Jurgen Melzer from Austria, Sijsling will face yet another Dutchman - Robin Hasse - and Levine meets King-Turner.