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Stich flops on his return, top seed Simon stunned

FORMER Wimbledon champion Michael Stich's return to competitive action 12 years after his retirement lasted only 62 minutes on Tuesday, losing his doubles first round at the German Open in Hamburg.

Stich, 40, teamed with 21-year-old Mischa Zverev but the German duo was beaten 6-4, 6-2 by the Swedish-Australian pair of Simon Aspelin and Paul Hanley, much to the disappointment of the 4,000 fans.

Stich, who won Wimbledon in 1991 and was also a French Open and US Open finalist, won a total 18 career titles and reached a career-high ranking of No. 2 before retiring in 1997.

Stich is not the only retired player to make a brief doubles comeback.

Former Wimbledon champion John McEnroe, partnered by Swede Jonas Bjorkman, won the San Jose doubles tournament in 2006 aged 47, 14 years after his last title.

Meanwhile, German wildcard Daniel Brands stunned top seed Gilles Simon of France 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the third round in the singles competition.

The pair traded early breaks before Simon, still in search of his season's first title, broke again to race into the lead 5-2 and serve out the set two games later.

Simon got another early break to go 2-1 up in the second but the determined 22-year-old Brands, ranked 120th in the world, broke twice to lead 4-2.

Raced back

The Frenchman raced back to 4-4 with some well-placed groundstrokes but Brands hung in to break again and level the match.

The German then got the break he wanted in the fifth game of the third set to go 4-2 up and serve out the match on his third match point.

World No. 16 Tommy Robredo, seeded fourth, also suffered an early exit at the hands of Spanish compatriot Ivan Navarro, ranked 103rd, losing 7-5, 7-6.

Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas came from a break down in the first set to sweep past ninth-seed Juergen Melzer from Austria 7-6, 6-3 while Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, seeded fifth, lost 6-2, 6-4 to Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

French 13th-seed Paul-Henri Mathieu was lucky to escape against 145th-ranked Pere Riba of Spain, battling his way through three sets to win 6-1, 2-6. 7-6.

Serb Viktor Troicki, seeded 10th, also had to battle hard - for two hours and 40 minutes - until breaking the resistance of Russian Teimuraz Gabashvilli 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

In Indianapolis, top-seeded Dmitry Tursunov opened his account at the Indianapolis Championships by defeating Michael Berrer of Germany 6-3, 2-6, 6-0 on Tuesday.

Tursunov, the runner-up here a year ago and winner at Indianapolis in 2007, returned to action after a 2 1/2-week layoff.

He had leads of 3-0 and 5-1 in the first set before losing momentum and losing eight of 11 games through one span late in the first set and early in the second. The Russian converted only 48 percent of his first serves.


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