Rotterdam: Richard Gasquet handed the Rotterdam World Tennis tournament another box office body blow as the top seed quit on Tuesday a day before his opening match with a groin strain.
The pullout came a week after Roger Federer was unable to play after undergoing knee surgery which will keep him off the ATP for at least a month. Frenchman Gasquet said that he felt his pain the day before winning the Montpellier tournament for the third time at the weekend. The 29-year-old ranked 13th came to Rotterdam in hopes he could heal but said that he is also now feeling ill and had no choice but to quit the indoor event.
Marin Cilic, the second seed, now takes the role of favourite at the tournament where he finished runner-up in 2014. Gasquet said that he hopes to be able to play in the Marseille event later this month. "Of course I'm disappointed, I wanted to play here," Gasquet said. "It's impossible for me to play. "If I don't feel 100 percent, it is better to quit. This is a big event for me, I'm sad not to be able to play here.
It's tough for me but I had no choice. "I need to rest," said the player whose season only began last week after missing the Australian summer campaign with back pain. "I played four matches last week and maybe my body was not ready." On court, Luxembourg veteran Gilles Muller rallied to defeat Andreas Seppi 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, setting up his first career meeting with Cilic.
Muller, 32, had suffered three defeats at the hands of the Italian but turned the tables in slightly more than two hours at the Ahoy stadium. Muller will be keen to take on second seed Cilic for the first time after the 2014 US Open winner led a three-man Croatian waver into the second round in Rotterdam.
"Cilic is one of the few guys I've not played, sometimes it happens like that," said Muller, losing quarter-finalist at the event a year ago to eventual champion Stan Wawrinka. "It will be exciting, a tough match, I hope to recover well and be ready for him." Muller's big serve accounted for 19 aces against Seppi, who dropped to 4-5 in 2016 as he played Rotterdam for the ninth time.
"It was a close match, it could have gone either way at the end," Muller, a semi-finalist last weekend in Sofia, said. "We were both fighting very hard. "The first round of a tournament is always difficult, I also got to Rotterdam late which did not help. "It's a match I'm glad I won, but I can play better than this."
Crowd-pleaser Marcos Baghdatis ended an upset of fourth seed David Goffin by winning a 41-shot rally as the Belgian fired a forehand long in a 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (7/5) loss. Baghdatis was joined in the second round by French fifth seed Gael Monfils, a 6-4, 6-4 victor over qualifier Ernests Gulbis. South Korea's Chung Hyeon advanced past Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 while Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber easily eliminated Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-4, 6-4.