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French wildcard sends Nalbandian packing

©

Latest update : 2009-05-25

France's Jeremy Chardy (photo) caused a remarkable upset as he fought back from two sets down to defeat 6th seed David Nalbandian. Elsewhere, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Venus Williams eased ahead, while Amélie Mauresmo crashed out.

REUTERS - Reputations counted for little at the French Open on Thursday when seeds Amelie Mauresmo, James Blake and David Nalbandian were toppled by opponents ranked outside the world's top 75.

 

Women's sixth seed Anna Chakvetadze also joined the exodus but triple champion Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Venus Williams and Jelena Jankovic survived the carnage and dodged the rain, which once again returned to Roland Garros, to march on.

 

Mauresmo's slender hopes of winning her home grand slam were left in tatters by a 19-year-old upstart ranked 132nd.

 

Before arriving in Paris, Carla Suarez Navarro had never played at a grand slam. That did not stop the Spanish qualifier from embarrassing the 22nd seed Mauresmo with a 6-3 6-4 second-round victory.

 

Seventh seed Blake, one of five American men to reach the second round, had been hoping to join compatriots Wayne Odesnik and Robby Ginepri in the last 32 but was bounced out by an opponent who hails from a family of basketball players.

 

Latvian teenager Ernests Gulbis, ranked 80th in the world, ensured Blake's run of never passing the third round here continued with a 7-6 3-6 7-5 6-3 humbling on Court One.

 

Unlike Mauresmo and Blake, sixth seed Nalbandian had enjoyed a good track record at the claycourt major after reaching the semi-finals in 2004 and 2006, but he surrendered a two-set lead to go down 3-6 4-6 6-2 6-1 6-2 to French wildcard Jeremy Chardy.

 

For a woman who had never before experienced the imposing surroundings of the Philippe Chatrier Court, Suarez Navarro remained undaunted and turned into public enemy number one as she handed Mauresmo her earliest defeat at her home grand slam for seven years after 72 minutes of one-sided action.


The Frenchwoman, who made 40 unforced errors, bowed out by shovelling a backhand long on match point.

 

Former champion Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario was among the Spaniard's entourage which applauded her moment of triumph as a crestfallen Mauresmo was left to digest her 14th flop in Paris.

 

"Frankly, I don't know what to say right now, because there was nothing much on my side," said a demoralised Mauresmo, who has never progressed beyond the last eight here.



BIGGEST VICTORY

 

 

"All I can say is that I feel sorry about the way I played."

 

Nalbandian would also be kicking himself after allowing a winning situation to slip through his fingers.

 

He would have fancied his chances against the 145th-ranked Chardy as the Frenchman had spent all year crisscrossing the globe to far flung second tier Challenger events without playing a single match on the main tour before this week.

 

After punching out a string of winners, Chardy pulled off the biggest victory of his career when Nalbandian scooped a backhand into the net after three hours of see-saw action.

 

While Nalbandian was frustrated, Blake was simply disgusted by his performance.

 

"I lost to a guy ranked 80th in the world. Granted, he didn't play like 80th in the world, he played better than that. But there are a lot of guys out there that can dictate play against me if I try to play like that," Blake fumed.

 

Russia's Chakvetadze became the highest seeded casualty in the women's draw, falling 6-4 7-6 to Estonian Kaia Kanepi, but Svetlana Kuznetsova lived to fight anther day. She trounced American Vania King 6-4 6-2.

 

Albert Montanes had the audacity to take the first set off Federer but it did not take the world number one long to pull rank. Firing winners at ease, he put the Spanish minion firmly in his place with a 6-7 6-1 6-0 6-4 exhibition.

 

 

INJURY SCARE

 

 

Things are likely to get a little more tricky in the next round as Federer will face Mario Ancic, who was the last man to beat the Swiss master on grass in 2002. After being given the runaround by the rain for three days, Nadal quickly stifled France's Nicolas Devilder 6-4 6-0 6-1.

 

The second seed's first-round match had been scheduled for Monday, started on Tuesday and finally finished on Wednesday.

 

On Thursday, it took him less than two hours to book his round three berth against fellow left-hander Jarkko Nieminen.

 

Williams was a 6-2 6-4 winner over Tunisian qualifier Selima Sfar while Jankovic overcame a wrist injury scare to see off New Zealand's Marina Erakovic 6-2 7-6.

 

The Safin clan endured mixed fortunes on day five. While Dinara Safina dropped just one game in a rout of Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova, her brother Marat fell 7-6 6-2 6-2 to fellow Russian and fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko.

 

Top seed Maria Sharapova was leading 6-2 2-3 against American Bethanie Mattek when fading light halted play.

Date created : 2008-05-29

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