Rochus rises to the occasion to cut down Paradorn

-File photo

Paradorn Srichaphan fell victim to Olivier Rochus as the pint-sized sixth-seeded led a second-round Belgian sweep on Wednesday at the Stockholm Open.
Paradorn, Asia’s top player and the 2002 champion, paid the price as he went down fighting 6-2, 6-7 (57), 6-2 to Rochus, one of the shortest men in the game at 1.65 metres.
The compact power-hitter cut the Thai down to size as Paradorn double-faulted to hand over three match points. One was enough, with Rochus advancing to the quarter-finals from a forehand winner.
Compatriot Kristof Vliegen, seeded seventh, also reached the last eight with a win over young Canadian Frank Dancevic 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Paradorn, occasionally adjusting the taping on his right wrist, had been hoping for a better showing after his title four years ago and a losing final in 2005 to James Blake.
Rochus improved to 3-1 over the Asian, with the Belgian now standing 32-17 on the season. He won the second title of his career at Munich in May as he defeated Vliegen.
Paradorn came to Sweden after semi-final showings in two of his past three events in Asia.
Rochus lifted the opening set but fell victim to a Thai fightback as Paradorn finally squared the tight contest on his fifth set point, an ace in the tiebreaker.
Never-say-die Rochus earned a third-set break for 4-2, served out a 5-2 love game and broke Paradorn to gain the victory.
Fifth-seeded Finn Jarkko Nieminen, a quarter-finalist last week in Tokyo, reached the second round over Frenchman Michael Llodra 6-4, 6-4.
Second seed James Blake, winner just over a week ago in Bangkok, begins play against Sweden’s former Stockholm champion Thomas Johansson while top seed Rafael Nadal was facing off in the second round against Swede Joachim Johansson.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2006