Djokovic crashes out of Brisbane tournament in first round

Serbian top player Novak Djokovic suffered an unexpected first-round loss at the Brisbane International tournament. Latvian Ernests Gulbis defeated the last Australian Open champion 6-4 6-4 to advance to the next round.


AFP - Little-known Latvian Ernests Gulbis sent top seed and world number three Novak Djokovic crashing out of the first round of the Brisbane International here Tuesday.

Gulbis outplayed the inconsistent Djokovic to notch up a 6-4, 6-4 win in 90 minutes and open up the top half of the draw.

Djokovic's woes were in stark contrast to the performance of second-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who cruised to a 6-2, 7-5 win over Agustin Calleri of Argentina.

Djokovic, who defeated Tsonga in the final of last year's Australian Open, never looked comfortable on the centre court of the new Queensland Tennis Centre.

He only arrived in Australia on Saturday and said his lack of practice along with a change of rackets had contributed to the loss.

"I didn't play at all good today and I knew that the first match was going to be a very difficult one, especially if I played against a player who doesn't give me a lot of rhythm," Djokovic said.

"I changed a lot of things so there's still some things I'm not used to and unfortunately I got this result."

Djokovic struggled to hold serve all match, only getting 48 percent of his first serves in, and even though he broke Gulbis early in the second set it was no surprise when the Latvian broke back immediately and went on to take the match.

"I was thinking throughout the match that I could break him any time because his first serve was a really low percentage today and I had my chances with his second serve," Gulbis said.

The 53rd-ranked Gulbis said although the result was one of his best, he had played better in the past without success.

"I've had some beautiful losses -- many of them," he said.

Tsonga raced through the first set against Calleri, barely breaking sweat, but he went off the boil in the second as the Argentinian came back into the match.

Calleri looked certain to take the set to a tie-break when he had three game points to make it 6-6 but he lost the next five points and handed the match to Tsonga.

Tsonga said he always found the first match of the season hard to play.

"It's difficult when you haven't played for a long time," he said.

"It's difficult because you don't know where you are on the court."

Tsonga next plays Finland's Jarkko Nieminen, who was impressive in his first-round win over Marcos Baghdatis on Monday.

Fourth seed Robin Soderling of Sweden opened his campaign with a comfortable 6-3, 6-3 win over Frenchman Julien Benneteau, while rising Japanese star Kei Nishikori beat American Bobby Reynolds 6-3, 6-2.

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