Stricken Baghdatis beats Simon in Dubai

By Matt Smith

DUBAI (Reuters) - Food poisoning could not stop Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis from defeating eighth seed Gilles Simon 7-6 6-4 in the first round of the Dubai tennis championships on Monday.

"I was concentrating on not throwing up on court," the 24-year-old said. "I was suffering from food poisoning and had cramps in my stomach."

After the first nine games went with serve, the stricken former Australian Open runner-up left the court at 4-5 down, with the score at 40-15, before returning to serve out the game and then immediately break the Frenchman, who was struggling with a chest injury.

Simon responded, breaking back to force a tie-break, but the world number 18 hit a series of unforced errors and allowed Baghdatis to take it 7-3.

At 4-5 in the second set, Simon saved a match point with a delicate drop shot but Baghdatis was not to be denied as his opponent hit a wide forehand to gift the world number 37 the match.

"I had many opportunities but every time I was close I just did too many mistakes," said Simon. "The last game he didn't have to do anything, (I) just did four mistakes."

Baghdatis will face either Italy's Marco Chiudinelli or qualifier Somdev Devvarman of India in Wednesday's second round.

Roger Federer, who should have been the top seed at the tournament, pulled out Sunday because of a lung infection. Second seed Novak Djokovic and number three Andy Murray join the action later Monday.

Spain's Feliciano Lopez, twice a finalist here, suffered a shock first-round defeat, losing to qualifier Stefan Koubek.

The Austrian won 7-6 6-4, beating the world number 34 in a closely contested match.

(Editing by Clare Fallon)