Defending Champion Gilles Muller Leads Exodus of Seeds in Hertogenbosch

Robin Haase and Yuichi Sugita also fell to lesser opponents.

Defending Champion Gilles Muller Leads Exodus of Seeds in Hertogenbosch

2017 winner Gilles Muller lost his opening match in Hertogenbosch on Wednesday, joining a pair of other seeded players in second round defeat.

The 35-year-old from Luxembourg fell in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5, to Matthew Ebden, shortly after home favorite Robin Haase crashed out 6-3, 7-5 to Bernard Tomic.

Neither defeat was shocking, however. Muller has struggled mightily this season and entered the week with four consecutive losses; the No. 3 seed was even relegated to an outside court against the Australian. Ebden looked the more comfortable throughout, winning all but five points on Muller’s second serve and saving four of five break points.

He took advantage of one poor game from Muller in the first set, serving it out at love to edge in front. Ebden then survived a marathon final four game stretch that included three breaks and nine break points, eventually converting his second match point.

No. 5 seed Haase, meanwhile, ran into trouble against a player more suited to grass. The Dutchman dictated a handful of long rallies early in the match, but began to fade after dropping his serve at 2-3. Tomic, who made a strong 70 percent of first serves, had little trouble seeing out his one-set advantage.

The wheels came off for a listless Haase after he was broken to open the second set. Tomic comfortably served his way through several service games, but suddenly struggled to find his first serve at 4-3, and Haase took full advantage of his first break point to level the proceedings.

It would be short-lived, though, as Tomic rattled off four straight points in a brilliant return effort two days later, then forced Haase to miss a forehand slice on match point.

“I played well and I needed to play well, because he plays really good tennis here,” Tomic said. “I was happy to win today.”

The qualifier Tomic will meet Fernando Verdasco, the only seeded player to win on Wednesday, in the quarterfinals, after the Spaniard saw off Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-1. Medvedev started strongly, breaking at love in the opening game, but Verdasco fought back three games later and weathered three break points in an ensuing marathon game.

Pressure from the 34-year-old forced Medvedev into a double fault on the second set point, giving Verdasco a lead and derailing his opponent. The Russian won just eight points in the second set, saved no break points and put just 44 percent of first serves in play.

“I’m very happy with the way I finally finished the match,” Verdasco said. “For the first match of the season (on) grass, I can be happy.”

Seventh seed Yuichi Sugita also joined the parade of defeated favorites, falling 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 to Marius Copil of Romania. That sets up an all-unseeded quarterfinal between Ebden and Copil.

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