Tennis: Former champion Roberto Bautista Agut bundled out of ASB Classic in opening-round upset

Defending champion Richard Gasquet and two-time winner Robert Bautista Agut have become the latest high-profile victims to fall in the ASB Classic opening round at Auckland.

Frenchman Gasquet, 37, captured his 16th ATP Tour singles crown and first in almost five years, when he swept through the draw last year, defying his world ranking of 67th to beat NZ-raised Brit Cam Norrie in the final. 

In 2024, he could not turn back the clock again, bowing to teenage countryman Arthur Fils in straight sets, 6-3 6-4. Fils, 19, broke service once in each set, taking a 4-2 lead in the first, before seizing an early 2-1 advantage in the second.

Richard Gasquet in action at the ASB Classic.
Richard Gasquet in action at the ASB Classic. Photo credit: Photosport

"It's so nice to play with him," said Fils. "He's a great champion and had an unbelievable career, so I'm happy to play on the court with him and I hope it's not the last time.

"It was a nice match from my part and I'm really happy."

Ranked 36th and seeded sixth, Fils has just one tournament win to his name, winning on clay at Paris last May, but his success against Gasquet - his second win over the veteran - represents his sixth win against a former top-10 player.

Previous scalps include Norwegian Casper Ruud, Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, Swiss Stan Wawrinka... and Bautista Agut.

The 2016 and 2018 men's singles winner also could not recapture that form this year, bowing out in straight sets, 6-4 6-3, to countryman Robert Carballes Baena on the second day of play.

A former world No.9 in 2019, Bautista Agut has seen his ranking plummet to 51st, still 16 spots above his rival on centrecourt.

Now 35, he faced 15 breakpoints throughout the encounter, staving off 10, but dropping serve five times. Carballes Baena, 30, progresses to face Austrian seventh seed Sebatian Ofner, who was equally as clinical in dispatching Canadian Denis Shapovalov, 6-4 6-2.

Gasquet and Bautista Agut join fifth-seeded American Chris Eubanks and crowdpleasing veteran Gael Monfils - husband of women's runner-up Elina Svitolina - as early casualties.

Lone Kiwi Kiranpal Pannu has also departed the tournament, falling 6-4 6-4 to Australian eighth seed Max Purcell.

Pannu, 27, qualified for the event by winning the Te Anau Invitational - the designated men's wildcard competition - last month, but brought a ranking almost 700 places below Purcell, who is 45th in the world.

Roberto Bautista Agut in action at the ASB Classic.
Roberto Bautista Agut in action at the ASB Classic. Photo credit: Getty Images

The local hope lost to Gasquet in the opening round last year and lasted 1h 27m against the Aussie this time, threatening to prolong the contest, when he held breakpoint, as his opponent served for the match.

The comeback proved beyond him, as the Aussie earned a meeting with Japanese Taro Daniel at the next stage.

Day Three at the tournament will see the first appearance of the top seeds, with American No.1 Ben Shelton facing Hungarian Fabian Marozsan, who ousted Monfils on opening night.

Second seed Norrie takes on French qualifier Luca Van Assche, while third-seeded Argentinian Francisco Cerundolo faces another French qualifier, Alexandre Muller.