Del Potro falls, Soderling marches on

SHANGHAI: Luckless Juan Martin Del Potro suffered his second Asian collapse today with

the newly crowned US Open champion failing to finish

his opening match at the Shanghai Masters.

The Argentine who was beaten by a qualifier a week ago in Tokyo in his first match since his career-defining grand slam title in New York, went down to Austrian Jurgen Melzer 7-5, 2-1, unable to continue. In Tokyo, the 21-year-old had complained of feeling listless and unable to find his game. The symptoms were still there in Shanghai, his second and final date in Asia.

Sweden’s Roland Garros finalist Robin Soderling bucked the losing trend as he reached the third round over Nicolas Almagro of Spain 6-4, 7-5. Former Shanghai champion Lleyton Hewitt couldn’t get past unpredictable Gael Monfils as the French 11th seed knocked out the Australian 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Hewitt threw away a 2-0 lead in the final set against Monfils. Hewitt dropped six straight games to go out as he played the French youngster for the first time in two years. Hewitt, 28, who underwent hip surgery in the 2008, refused to join this week’s controversy over whether the length of the 11-month season contributed to player injuries.

On Wednesday, two Germans made second-round exits as Robredo, the 14th seed, beat Florian Mayer 4-6, 7-6 (7/1), 6-4 while Rainer Schuettler advanced as compatriot Tommy Haas fell victim to a right shoulder injury after dropping the first set 6-4. Madrid’s Feliciano Lopez defeated Spanish 16th seed David Ferrer 4-6, 7-5, 6-1. Czech Tomas Berdych drew fire from Marat Safin after a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 loss, with the retiring Russian says his opponent had faked an injury.

Japan Open

OSAKA: India’s Sania Mirza became the first player to reach the quarter-finals of the Japan Open on Wednesday, beating Viktoriya Kutuzova of Ukraine in straight sets.

The 22-year-old Mirza, who won the Australian Open mixed doubles with Mahesh Bhupathi this season, took advantage of a rash of double faults from Kutuzova on her way to a 6-4, 6-3 win. In the last eight, Mirza will play the 2006 champion, Marion Bartoli of France, seeded second.

Bartoli, battling for the final spot in the season-ending championships, thumped Japanese wild card Kurumi Nara 6-1, 6-1. In other second-round action, fourth seed Francesca Schiavone of Italy had an unconvincing 6-3, 0-6, 6-3 win over Chan Yung-jan of Taiwan. Seventh seed Melinda Czink of Hungary hit seven aces in beating Vania King of the United States 6-4, 6-2.