'Lucky loser' Vacek upsets Johansson in Nottingham
NOTTINGHAM, England -- Jan Vacek upset top-seeded Thomas Johansson 7-6 (6), 6-7 (11), 6-4 Monday at the Red Letter Days Open grass-court tournament.
The 245th-ranked Czech took full advantage of his "lucky loser" entry. Vacek failed to make it through the qualifiers but gained the last spot in the draw because of the retirement of fourth-seeded Fernando Verdasco.
Johansson, ranked No. 21, won this event in 2001 and reached the final in 2004.
"I was so calm because I didn't expect anything," Vacek said. "I feel really happy right now, and I just hope the happiness lasts."
Vacek will next face Frenchman Giles Simon, who beat Igor Kunitsyn of Russia, 6-4, 6-3. Second-seed Dominik Hrbaty needed 55 minutes to beat Wang Yeu-tzuoo of Taiwan 6-0, 6-3.
The Slovakian, looking for his first title in over two years, will face Andreas Seppi in the quarterfinals. The Italian beat Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland 7-6 (7), 4-6, 6-4.
Playing in his first ATP Tour event of the year, Vacek frustrated Johansson from the start. The Swede was unable to break on four separate occasions in the opening set and went down in the tiebreak.
Both players held serve in the second set until Johansson converted on his fourth set point. Vacek broke Johansson's serve in the ninth game of the third set before closing out the match.
Johansson, a former Australian Open winner and a semifinalist at Wimbledon last year, said that the center court grass was "dangerous" because it was slippery.
"I cannot do more than tell [the umpire] the court is dangerous," Johansson said. "He said the court was new and that was why it was slippery. If the court is like this and they continue to play then someone is going to get injured."
Officials said weather, including light rain, may have made the court slicker than usual, and all precautions were taken to keep the grass covered when necessary.
Richard Gasquet of France begins defense of his title Tuesday when he plays qualifier Ivan Navarro Pastor of Spain.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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