Bellucci blows away talented Belgian

19:21, Jan 07 2013
Heineken Open 2013
Benjamin Becker from Germany returns a shot in his match with Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic.
Heineken Open 2013
Lukas Rosol on his way to losing his match with Benjamin Becker in straight sets.
Heineken Open 2013 gallery
A high gust of wind created a little havoc for the first umpire on court this morning.
Heineken Open 2013
Benjamin Becker lines up a serve on his way to winning his match with Lukas Rosol earlier today.
Heineken Open 2013
Igor Sijsling of Netherlands plays a backhand in his first round match against compatriot Matwe Middelkoop.
Heineken Open 2013
Matwe Middelkoop of Netherlands serves in his first round match against Igor Sijsling.
Heineken Open 2013
Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil plays a forehand during his first round match against David Goffin of Belgium.
David Goffin
David Goffin was spirited early in his match against Thomasz Bellucci before falling away to a straight sets loss.
Heineken Open 2013
Xavier Malisse of Belgium returns a shot in his match with Martin Klizan of Slovakia.
Heineken Open 2013
Martin Klizan of Slovakia fires a return during his match with Xavier Malisse today.
Xavier Malisse
Xavier Malisse showed great composure to claim an upset win in round one over seventh seed Martin Klizan.
Open 1
Australian Greg Jones receives medical attention during his qualifying match against Victor Hanescu of Romania on day one.
Open 2
Martin Kilzan, Slovakia, plays a backhand during his first round match against Belgian Xavier Malisse on day one.
Open 3
Greg Jones of Australia serves in his qualifying match against Victor Hanescu of Romania on day one.
Open 4
The artwork on the left leg of the Czech Republic's Lukas Rosol as he walks back to his chair during his match against Benjamin Becker of Germany on day one.
Igor Sijsling
Igor Sijsling moves into the second round after beating fellow Dutchman Robin Haase.
Greg Jones
Greg Jones powered past Jurgen Melzer in the first round of the Heineken Open, beating the sixth seed 7-6(7) 6-2.
Dan King-Turner
Dan King-Turner in action during his first round loss.
Gael Monfils
Gael Monfils entertained the fans during his win in three sets over Benjamin Becker.
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Colombia's Santiago Giraldo during day 3 of the 2013 ATP Heineken Tennis Open.
Heineken Open 2013
Xavier Malisse during day three of the 2013 ATP Heineken Tennis Open.
Heineken Open 2013
Olivier Rochus on day three of the Heineken Open New Zealand.
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Heineken promotion girls at the Heineken Open.
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Philipp Kohlschreiber on his way to victory on day three of the Heineken Open.
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Germany's Tommy Hass in training on day three.
Gael Monfils
Gael Monfils plays a shot between his legs during his straight sets win over Australian Greg Jones.
Tommy Haas
Tommy Haas was in blistering form in during his win over Igor Sijsling.
David Ferrer
David Ferrer hits a forehand during his three-set win over Lu Yen-Hsun.
Heineken Open 2013
Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany during day four of the Heineken Open New Zealand Quarter finals.
Heineken Open 2013
Belgium's Xavier Malisse in action on centre court in the quarter finals of the Heineken Open.
Heineken Open 2013
A fan watches the Heineken Open.
Querrey
Sam Querrey on day four of the Heineken Open.
Gel Monfils
Gel Monfils beat Tommy Haas to progress to the semifinals.
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Philipp Kohlschreiber from Gemany reacts as he wins the first semi final on day five of the Heineken Open.
Heineken Open 2013
Sam Querrey from the US stretches to return a ball from Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Heineken Open 2013
Philipp Kohlschreiber from Gemany on his way to winning the first semi final.
David Ferrer
David Ferrer celebrates his win against Gael Monfils.
Heineken Open 2013
David Ferrer beat Gael Monfils 6-1 6-2 in the second semi fianl of the Heineken Open.
David Ferrer
David Ferrer on his way to winning the Heineken Tennis Open.
David Ferrer
David Ferrer reacts to winning the Heineken Tennis Open for a record equaling forth time.

As the only Brazilian tennis player ranked in the world's top 100, Thomaz Bellucci is a rare breed, not least because he emerged from a football-mad nation.

Thankfully for Bellucci, he recovered from a horror start to blow away rising Belgian ace David Goffin 7-6 (2) 6-2 in yesterday's opening round at the Heineken Open.

Seeing the tall, tanned Brazilian with a racket in hand, rather than a football at his feet, is rather odd. You get the feeling he would not be out of place up front on a footy field, heading the ball into goal.

Instead, he has won three singles titles and moved into the second round of his fifth Auckland tournament.

Not bad for a bloke from a South American country where few people play tennis.

"It's not very popular," Bellucci said.

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"Not many people can play tennis in Brazil because it's not cheap to buy a racket. We don't have many players in the top 100. Everybody plays football in Brazil."

The eighth seed only chose tennis because his parents were too old to play football. He has made a solid fist of it, finishing in the top 40 for the last four years and winning US$2,600,123 (NZ$3.13 million).

Bellucci prefers clay court and initially found it tough against Goffin, falling behind 3-5 in the opening set as blustery winds made shot-making difficult. At one point, signage blew on to the court.

"The conditions for both players were very tough. It wasn't the best tennis but I'm just happy to get through to the second round," Bellucci said.

"That always happens in Auckland. It's got the most wind of all tournaments."

Strong wind surges made for a mental, rather than pure skilful, battle.

Bellucci adjusted to suit, winning five consecutive games, while the pint-sized, baby-faced Goffin self-destructed.

"I didn't start very well but I won the first set and gained a lot of confidence," Bellucci said.

"In the beginning I was trying to hit some winners which is not possible, then I tried to keep it in the middle of the court."

Later in the day, Slovakia's top ranked player, Martin Klizan, became the first ranked player to be bundled out of the tournament. Fourteen-year journeyman Xavier Malisse upset the world No 30 and 2012 newcomer of the year in three sets, winning 7-6 (5) 3-6 6-3.

Klizan fought back to win five consecutive games and the second set but could not stick with the experienced Belgian, who showed composure and temperament to take the match in just over two hours.

Afterwards, Malisse gave an insight into how difficult the conditions were.

"It's really tough. It's almost at a point where I think they shouldn't play because it's not much fun for the fans to watch as there are no rallies," he said.

"It's no fun for us to play. It's basically whoever keeps the ball in play the longest. It doesn't have to be great, pretty tennis."

Today's action features New Zealand wildcard Dan King-Turner against Canadian qualifier Jesse Levine while French firecracker, former world No 7 Gael Monfils, makes his first appearance against German Benjamin Becker.

Fairfax Media