Swedish junior Vinciguerra upsets Hrbaty for finest career victory

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Swedish junior Andreas Vinciguerra upset the No 8 seed Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia in three sets today at the Stockholm Open in Sweden for his finest career victory.

Swedish junior Andreas Vinciguerra upset the No 8 seed Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia in three sets today at the Stockholm Open in Sweden for his finest career victory.

Vinciguerra, 18, a wild-card entry, won the first-round match 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 before a boisterous turnout at the Royal Tennis Hall - as loud as crowds of the past when eventual champions like Bjorn Borg, Stefan Edberg and Mats Wilander played as teenagers in the same arena.

"It's my biggest win," Vinciguerra said. "And it was also my best match. This means a lot for your confidence and all the ATP points I will get."

Vinciguerra has climbed more than 500 spots on the ATP list this year, starting the season in the low 600s. He was ranked a career-high 108th before this tournament, not enough to get a direct entry.

But Edberg, the former six-time Grand Slam winner and now a member of the Stockholm Open organizing committe, was happy to inform Vinciguerra that he had earned one of the three wild cards last weekend.

Vinciguerra also received a wild card in the Swedish Open at Bastad last and responded well, reaching his first final. That tournament was played on clay. The Stockholm Open is played on hardcourt.

The versatile Vinciguerra was ranked a career-high third as junior, but it took him almost two years to break into the ATP Tour.

"The pace is so much higher compared to the juniors and the guys hit a lot harder," Vinciguerra said.

"He (Hrbaty) hits very hard. He has no real weakness. But I played well virtually every game when he was serving. The crowd support was very important, especially in the third set."

Tim Henman, the No 2 seed from Britain who lost last year's semi-finals to the eventual winner, Todd Martin, breezed past Stefan Koubek of Austria 6-1, 6-3 in another first-round match.

Earlier, Jan-Michael Gambill of the United States and Jens Knippschild of Germany won their opening matches in straight sets.

Playing before a sparse late afternoon centercourt crowd, Knippschild beat former top 10 player Magnus Larsson of Sweden 6-4, 6-4 in the first match of the day. Gambill, also unseeded, won 6-2, 6-3 against Arnaud Di Pasquale of France.

Afterward, the injury-prone Larsson said he will skip tournaments in Australia in January, including the Australian Open, to work himself back into shape in the United States early next year.

"I'm not as strong as I used to be, but I'm going to work hard to come back," Larsson said. "I will play no tournaments, just practice hard."

Larsson's coach Carl-Axel Hageskog, who also is the captain of the once powerful Swedish Davis Cup team, will travel with Larsson to the United States.

Larsson's back injury forced him to deafault a match in Stuttgart, Germany, two weeks ago. And last week, the tall Swede withdrew from the Paris Open because of a neck injury.

Martin is not defending his title this year. The American, who made this year's US Open finals and is ranked fourth in the world, skipped Stockholm after he clinched a berth in the season-ending ATP World Championship in Hanover, Germany, later this month.

Gambill, aged 22, who has won one ATP title, is one of only two Americans in the main singles draw this year. Michael Chang is the other American entry.

Americans have dominated the tournament, which is the oldest ATP indoor event in the world, winning 12 singles titles. But only one American - Martin last year - won since John McEnroe's fourth triumph in 1985.

First round results (Seedings in brackets):

Tim Henman (2), Britain, beat Stefan Koubek, Austria, 6-1, 6-3.

Andreas Vinciguerra, Sweden, beat Dominik Hrbaty, Slovakia, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

Jan-Michael Gambill, United States, beat Arnaud Di Pasquale, France, 6-2, 6-3.

Jens Knippschild, Germany, beat Magnus Larsson, Sweden, 6-4, 6-4.