Tennis

Ferrero advances at Croatia Open

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UMAG, Croatia (AP)

Defending champion Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain defeated Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina to advance to the second round of the Croatia Open on Tuesday.

Ferrero — coming back from wrist and knee injuries — had overcome a slow start and rallied to go into the third set when Gonzalez retired because of a back injury at 3-6, 6-3, 1-1.

Ferrero will play third-seeded Croat Ivan Ljubicic on Wednesday.

''It's never nice to win match like this,'' Ferrero said of his opponent retiring. He added the match with Ljubicic could be ''the match of the tournament.''

''It is a tough second round for both of us. It would be better to have match like this in semifinals or finals, but what can we do?'' he said.

Also Tuesday, fifth-seeded Tommy Robredo defeated fellow Spaniard Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo 6-3, 6-2, while sixth-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini outplayed Rui Machado of Portugal, 6-4, 6-3.

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