Skupski loses in Bucharest; week’s hope rest with Marray and Fleming

By Philip James

Victor Hanescu/Gilles Muller def Ken Skupski/Xavier Malisse 4-6, 6-1, 10-8

Ken Skupski and his partner, Xavier Malisse lost in the first round of the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy in Romania today.

Drawn against wildcard-entrants Victor Hanescu and Gilles Muller, Skupski and his Belgian team-mate took the first set 4-6 before losing the second set 6-1.

Home-favourite, Hanescu, and Muller won the ensuing Champion’s Tie-break 10-8 and with it the match to progress to round two of the ATP250 clay court tournament.

Liverpool-born Skupski, 30, was the only doubles specialist on the court, with the other three men also competing in the singles draw.

Malisse is 54th in singles rankings but regularly plays doubles and is ranked 44th in that discipline, 18 places about Skupski.

Hanescu and Muller are ranked 55th and 68th respectively in singles and despite low doubles rankings were able to fight back to beat the British-Belgian team.

The only other British men in ATP World Tour action this week are Colin Fleming and Jonathan Marray, at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell 500 series event.

They face a tough task to reach round two as they play forth seeds, Jean-Julien Rojer and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, second on court three tomorrow.

The Brits will be hoping avenge their second round defeat at the hands of the Dutch-Pakistani combo in Monte Carlo last week.