Sydney: Third seed Fernando Verdasco of Spain crashed out of the first round of the Brisbane International on Tuesday, suffering an upset 6-1 6-7 6-3 loss to Germany's Benjamin Becker.
Verdasco, a semi-finalist at the Australian Open in 2009, recovered from a listless start to grind out the second set but had few answers in the third as Becker played a faultless service game to seal the match in just over two hours.
"I had a good game plan and it worked well today," 53rd-ranked Becker said after setting up a second round match with Colombia's Santiago Giraldo.
"It is always good to get a win under your belt... and it's not every day you beat a top 10 player." The 27-year-old Verdasco will have one more competitive warm-up before the Jan 17-30 Australian Open - at the invitational Kooyong Classic in Melbourne next week, where he will defend his title.
After beating Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final at Kooyong last year, the feisty Spaniard advanced to the fourth round at Melbourne Park but was edged in a five-set thriller by Russia's Nikolay Davydenko.
In the women's draw, Italy's Flavia Pennetta was forced to withdraw due to a gastrointestinal illness, organisers said. She was scheduled to play compatriot Roberta Vinci but would be replaced by American lucky loser Christina McHale.