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BECKER UPSETS VERDASCO AT BRISBANE INTERNATIONAL

By NBF News
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GERMANY'S Benjamin Becker upset third-seeded Fernando Verdasco 6-1, 6-7 (2), 6-3 yesterday in the first round of the Brisbane International.

Fourth-seeded Mardy Fish also advanced with a comfortable 6-1, 6-4 win over Adrian Mannarin of France in just over an hour. Becker said: 'It's always good to get a win under your belt, it's not every day you beat a top 10 player. I had a good game plan and it worked well today.'

Becker, ranked 53rd, raced through the first set in 30 minutes, with Verdasco failing to hold serve until the sixth game. The 27-year old Spaniard and 2009 Brisbane runner-up recovered a break in the second set and levelled the match by winning the tiebreaker but dropped his opening service game in the third set and Becker did not let him back into the match.

Top-seeded Robin Soderling of Sweden served an ace to close a 6-2, 6-4 win over American qualifier, Ryan Harrison, while Australian Open former finalist, Marcos Baghdatis, rallied from a set down to beat Frenchman Florent Serra 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

The 2009 champion and runner-up here last year, Radek Stepanek, beat Germany's Tobias Kamke 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, while South African Kevin Anderson beat Australia's Peter Luczak 6-4, 6-4 and veteran Frenchman Arnaud Clement went down in straight sets to Richard Berankis of Lithuania.

Czech Lucie Safarova reached the women's quarter-finals for the third straight year when she beat second-seeded Shahar Peer of Israel 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 in 2 1/2 hours. The Australian Open former quarter finalist is the girlfriend of 2010 Wimbledon runner-up, Tomas Berdych.

'Of course people ask me about Tomas, but so far it (Berdych's success) is motivating me to do better and to try to reach a better level of tennis,' Safarova said.

Russian No.5 seed, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, also won her second round match, beating Serbian Bojana Jovanovski 6-2, 7-5. In women's first-round matches, Italy's Roberta Vinci had a 6-2, 7-6 (2) win over American Christina McHale, a late replacement for Fed Cup champion, Flavia Pennetta, who withdrew due to sickness.