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Last Updated: Monday, 19 January, 2004, 03:38 GMT
Schuettler crashes out
Robin Soderling celebrates his shock victory over Rainer Schuettler

Rainer Schuettler became the first major casualty of the Australian Open as he slumped to a five-set defeat to Swedish teenager Robin Soderling.

Last year's surprise finalist collapsed from two sets up as the 19-year-old Soderling completed a 4-6 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4 victory.

There was no sign of what was to come as the German, seeded six, earned a break in each of the first two sets.

But with the third set seemingly heading for a tie-break, Schuettler lost concentration and his serve to hand Soderling a lifeline.

"I just didn't take my chances," Schuettler lamented afterwards. "I could have won in three sets."

I also had chances to take the fourth and fifth sets, so to lose is extremely bitter
Rainer Schuettler
Instead Soderling, ranked 57 in the world, seized his opportunity and broke Schuettler twice in the fourth to level the match.

The favourite regained some composure in the decider, Soderling's first-ever five-set match.

But the Swede broke for a 4-3 lead and then held his serve to put himself within a game of victory.

Schuettler bravely saved a match point in the next game but Soderling served out for the biggest win of his career to date.

"It was a tough defeat but he was a shooting star last year, and is a very good player," added Schuettler, who has yet to win a match this year. "He had nothing to lose."

Soderling will play Nicolas Escude in the second round after the Frenchman beat Hyung Taik-Lee 6-3 7-6 6-2.

Arnaud Clement
Clement was another casualty
Joining Schuettler on an early flight home was another former finalist, Arnaud Clement.

The Frenchman, who lost to Andre Agassi in the 2001 final, took the first two sets against Nikolay Davydenko.

But the Russian recovered brilliantly to complete a 6-7 4-6 6-4 6-1 6-2 victory.

Another seed to fall was Spaniard Tommy Robredo, the 20th seed losing 6-3 6-2 7-6 to Argentine Gaston Gaudio.

Also out is American Mardy Fish, seeded 21, who lost three tie-breaks, 7-6 7-6 7-6, to Croatian Ivo Karlovic, the man who humbled Lleyton Hewitt at Wimbledon last year.

Vincent Spadea, seeded 29, was another early casualty despite starting brightly against Thomas Enqvist.

But the American subsided as the Swede claimed a 4-6 6-4 6-4 7-6 victory.

Morocco's Younes El Aynaoui, who featured in an epic five-set struggle with Andy Roddick a year ago, was forced to retire in the first set of his opening-round match.

The number 18 seed was trailing 4-1 against Spaniard Galo Blanco.





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