Ferrero joins exodus of Monte Carlo seeds


MONTE CARLO, Reuters

Juan Carlos Ferrero became the 10th seed to fall in just three days at the US$2.95 million Monte Carlo Masters when he was brushed aside 6-2 7-6 (7-3) by fellow Spaniard Galo Blanco on Wednesday.

Seventh seed Ferrero, winner of the Estoril clay court tournament last week, followed third seed Magnus Norman, No 16 Carlos Moya and No 12 Franco Squillari who also lost second-round matches earlier in the day.

Swede Norman was blasted off court 6-2 6-4 by Morocco’s Hicham Arazi, Spaniard Moya went out 1-6 6-3 6-3 to Germany’s Tommy Haas and Argentine Squillari was beaten 4-6 6-1 6-2 by teenage compatriot Guillermo Coria.

One seed who gave a composed display on his least favourite surface was Briton Tim Henman.

The eighth seed swept aside Argentine Gaston Gaudio 6-4 6-2 to reach the third round here for the first time in four attempts.

Ferrero, winner of two titles so far this year, moved into the world’s top 10 for the first time following his victory in Estoril but was brought crashing back to earth by the 77th-ranked Blanco on Court Two.

Blanco out-ran and out-hit his opponent and although Ferrero, a semifinalist at last year’s French Open, rallied in the second set, the 24-year-old did enough to hold on for victory.

Stylish left-hander Arazi recorded his first victory over Norman in five matches, sweeping past him in an 82-minute performance of creative, aggressive and carefree tennis.

Arazi next meets defending champion Cedric Pioline. The French 14th seed beat Australia’s Andrew Ilie 7-6 (7-2) 6-2.

Coria, 19, who won the first tournament of his career on Chilean clay in Vina del Mar in February, dug his heels in to record a second successive victory over his more illustrious countryman Squillari to book a third round clash with Blanco.

Henman looked at home on his least favourite surface as he dominated clay court specialist Gaudio from the start.

Growing in confidence on a sunny Court des Princes, Henman used his all-court game to telling effect to beat the world number 26 in just 85 minutes.

“I’ve certainly never won two matches in a row here and I’m really pleased,” he said afterwards.”I know what I’m trying to do. I’m giving it my best shot and not dwelling on the consequences.”

Henman now plays Albert Costa in the next round. The Spaniard earlier reached the last 16 when a hamstring injury forced former champion Marcelo Rios to withdraw from their match.

Olympic bronze medallist Arnaud Di Pasquale of France overcame a bout of jitters to complete a 6-4 6-4 victory over Spain’s Alex Calatrava.

The Geneva-based 22-year-old — who knocked out top seed and world number one Marat Safin on Tuesday — led 4-1 in the first set and 5-2 in the second but allowed the Spaniard back into the match both times.

Di Pasquale, who had won just four matches in four months before his win over Safin, will play either Swiss 15th seed Roger Federer or Italy’s Davide Sanguinetti for a place in the quarter-finals.