Rain dampens Japan Open after Federer pullout

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TOKYO, Oct 1 (Reuters) Already reeling from the withdrawal of world number one Roger Federer, the Japan Open began today with players scuttling on and off court because of rain.

Federer's late pullout robbed Tokyo organisers of their main drawcard, the Swiss blaming fatigue for his decision to not defend his title in the Japanese capital.

His absence leaves world number eight David Ferrer the tournament's highest-ranked player and new top seed in the men's event.

Fans who braved Monday's cold weather were treated to Taiwanese Lu Yen-hsun's 6-7 7-6 6-1 victory over Thai Danai Udomchoke.

In contrast to Federer, who has earned in excess of million in career prize money, the two Asians have won just 1.25 million dollar between them.

Organisers, however, insisted it was not all gloom and doom, despite Federer's decision not to come and the frequent cloud bursts on the opening day of competition.

''We are very disappointed Roger's not here,'' Japan Tennis Association media director Nobutaka Hatta told Reuters.

''But we had no control over his decision and have to accept it.

''It's only day one so it's difficult to say what sort of effect Roger's absence will have on the tournament. But we are still hopeful of a good tournament.'' Organisers had pinned their hopes on 17-year-old Kei Nishikori but the Japanese lost his first professional match against American Zack Fleishman 7-6 3-6 6-1.

Fleishman's reward for playing spoilsport will be a second round match against French third seed Richard Gasquet.

German Mischa Zverev beat Italy's Fabio Fognini 6-1 7-6 to advance while Spain's Ivan Navarro overcame Dutchman Robin Haase in two tie-break sets.

American former world number one Venus Williams, winner of the Korea Open title at the weekend, heads the women's field in Tokyo.

REUTERS TB RN1611

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