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Since 1st March, 1999
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Roddick ousted by Dutch qualifier

Rome: Fifth seed Andy Roddick was dumped out of the ATP Rome Masters by Dutch qualifier Martin Verkerk on Wednesday, losing 7-6, 3-6, 4-6 in a tense second-round encounter.

The big-serving American, who defeated Verkerk on his way to the quarter finals of the Australian Open in January, met his match in the lanky Dutchman, who thumped down 22 aces.

A tight first set with no breaks ended with Roddick taking the tie-break 8-6 when Verkerk netted a simple backhand.

The American found his range on Verkerk’s serve to break in the opening game of the second set, but some wayward groundstrokes allowed his opponent to break back in the second and sixth games to level the match.

In the decider the balance swung firmly in Verkerk’s favour.

Roddick saved two breakpoints in the first game, but could only scoop a tired reply into the net when Verkerk whipped a topspin forehand to the back corner in the fifth game to lose his serve.

Verkerk showed no sign of nerves when serving for the match, blasting down aces numbers 20, 21 and 22.

Earlier, fourth seed Roger Federer produced a patchy performance to beat Argentine Mariano Zabaleta 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 to reach the last 16.

The Swiss converted just three out of 17 break points against the Argentine, who had only once gone beyond the first round in Rome in three previous visits.

Federer’s delicate net play turned on the pressure at the start, creating four chances to break in his opponent’s first two service games. But having watched the Swiss squander them all, Zabaleta broke in the fifth game and then held his own serve to take a 4-2 lead.

However, Federer broke back in the eighth game and then dominated the tiebreak to wrap up the first set in an hour and a quarter.

The second set was a more one-sided affair. Unforced errors by Zabaleta allowed Federer to break in the first and seventh games and then serve four consecutive aces to settle the issue.

German Open

Meanwhile, in Berlin, Jennifer Capriati began her warm-up for the French Open with a comfortable 6-4, 6-4 win over Italy’s Francesca Schiavone at the German Open on Wednesday.

The 2001 French Open champion needed 89 minutes to beat Schiavone in her first match of the season on the red clay of Europe.

The 27-year-old American, who had a bye into the second round, goes on to meet France’s Nathalie Dechy in the third round. Dechy survived the second round easily, beating Slovenia’s Maja Matevzic 6-4, 6-2.

In other second round matches, eight-seeded Jelena Dokic of Serbia and Montenegro beat local favourite Marlene Weingaertner 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 while Elena Likhovtseva of Russia beat Czech Denisa Chladkova 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

In an all-Russian contest Vera Zvonareva beat ninth seed Anastasia Myskina 6-1, 6-2. Marie-Gaianeh Mikaelian of Switzerland overcame Spaniard Virginia Ruano Pascual 6-7 (6-8), 6-2, 6-1. (Reuters)

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