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Kunitsyn knocks out Ferrero in Barcelona

SPANISH former world No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero lost 5-7, 6-7 to Russian Igor Kunitsyn in the first round of the Barcelona Open on Monday.

The 29-year-old Ferrero, who won his first title in five and a half years at this month's Casablanca Grand Prix, faced some powerful hitting from the Russian on the clay in the Catalan capital and was broken in the opening game.

After losing the first set, 2001 winner Ferrero rallied to take a 3-0 lead at the start of the second but Kunitsyn hit back and took the tiebreak 7-3 with his fourth ace.

Nicolas Almagro, the Spanish 10th seed, lost the opening set in his match against Victor Hanescu but fought back to win the second and went through when the Romanian retired injured with the score at 2-2 in the third.

Russian 12th seed Igor Andreev beat Italy's Andreas Seppi 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 and 15th-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic went through against Martin Vassallo Arguello when the Argentine retired with the score at 5-2 in Berdych's favor.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal begins his title defense today against Portugal's Frederico Gil, who beat Lu Yen-hsun of Chinese Taipei 6-2, 6-1.

Nadal became the first man to win the Monte Carlo Masters five times in a row and is favorite for a fifth consecutive French Open title when the claycourt grand slam starts in five weeks.

Also, Gael Monfils is doubtful for the French Open because of a knee injury. "It is possible that I will not play Roland Garros," said the world No. 10, who reached the French Open semifinal last year.

French federation doctor Bernard Montalvan said Monfils has Osgood-Schlatter's disease and has suffered from the problem since 2007.


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