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Sam Querrey caused an upset when he knocked out No. 11 seed and last year’s semifinalist Lucas Pouille in the first round at the Foro Italico on Monday. The American saved set points in both tiebreaks on his way to recording his fifth Top 20 victory of the year.
Pouille’s loss marked his second straight first round defeat, having fallen at the same stage in Madrid last week. Prior to that he had enjoyed a successful run of form on the clay, reaching the semifinals in Monte Carlo and winning the title in Budapest.
Querrey has played just one clay court tournament so far this season, reaching the second round at Houston, and chose to skip last week’s Madrid Open. He won his ninth career singles title earlier in the year when he defeated Rafael Nadal in Acapulco.
The world No. 28 will meet qualifier Jan-Lennard Struff, who defeated Australia’s Bernard Tomic 67(8) 61 64, in the second round.
No. 12 seed Tomas Berdych booked his place in the second round with a 76(7) 64 victory over Mischa Zverev. The former world No. 4 needed one hour 49 minutes to defeat the German and put himself just one win from his 600th Tour victory.
Berdych reached the semifinals here in 2013 and is a four-time quarterfinalist. He will play either Robin Haase or Carlos Berlocq in the second round.