Last year’s break-out player Robin Soderling overcame a shaky start to claim his first victory of 2010 with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 defeat of Frenchman Florent Serra at the ABN-AMRO World Tennis.
The 2009 French Open finalist against Roger Federer had been beaten in first round at Chennai and the Australian Open.
“To win really feels good,” said the Swede. “I beat some good players last year but I didn’t start well. But the season has only just begun.” The number eight managed 26 aces in a victory lasting one hour, 46 minutes.
“The first match of the week is always the most difficult for me,” said Soderling. “My game got better and better. I know I can play a lot better. I’m satisfied with the win but not really with my form.” Soderling lost on a break in the first set but cranked up his game to stage the recovery.
Florian Meyer completed a German victory hat-trick against Janko Tipsarevic as he knocked the Serb out 6-3, 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (8-6).
Tipsarevic has now gone down to Germans in his last three matches, beginning with Tommy Haas in the Australian Open second round and followed by a first-round exit six days ago in Zagreb against eventual finalist Michael Berrer.
The 63rd-ranked Mayer admitted that he made hard work out of his victory after failing to serve it out in the second set tiebreaker.
“In the end I was just lucky to win. I had a match point and then led 3-0 in the second set.” The winner fired 12 aces and six double-faults. He saved nine of ten break points and fought off a Tipsarevic match point in the final set.
Mayer now stands 3-2 this season after losing in the Australian Open third round to Argentine Juan Del Potro. Tipsarevic has claimed one win from four matches in the Dutch port city.
By contrast, the day’s opening match went quickly for Italian Andreas Seppi, who efficiently put out Swiss qualifier Stephane Bohli 6-1, 7-5 in just under 90 minutes.
The tournament is missing both major protagonists from 2009, with Australian Open finalist and holder Andy Murray waiting until next week to resume on the ATP and finalist Rafael Nadal out for another few weeks as he heals a problem knee.
Serb Novak Djokivic heads the field as opens against Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky, while Russian Nikolay Davydenko takes the second seeding.