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Rediff.com  » Sports » Ferrero begins title bid in style

Ferrero begins title bid in style

April 25, 2006 09:59 IST

Former French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero made a confident start to his title bid at the Barcelona Open on Monday when he thrashed Belgium's Kristof Vliegen 6-1, 6-2 to reach the second round.

Vliegen went into the event full of confidence having reached two semi-finals in 2006 but 10th seed Ferrero, the Barcelona champion in 2001, was a class above and romped to victory in 68 minutes.

Since winning the French Open in 2003 and reaching the final of the US Open in the same year, Ferrero has struggled to maintain his place in the top 10.

But the Spaniard has climbed back inside the world's top 30 and believes little has changed since he topped the rankings in 2003.

"I think I am playing as well as before," he said.

"Whenever I play the top guys we have good matches. Last week in Monte Carlo, I played Ferrer who is top 10 and it was three sets. Last year I played Federer (in Dubai) and had two match points and then at Wimbledon against him I played a really good match."

There was no such luck for the 1998 Roland Garros champion, Carlos Moya, who was upended 7-5, 6-4 by Russian qualifier Evgeny Korolev.

British teenager Andy Murray, ranked 43rd, won his first match in more than six weeks when he beat Spanish wildcard Marcel Granollers-Pujol 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

The 18-year-old trailed the world number 291 by a set and a break but he rallied to win the second set.

With Granollers-Pujol struggling with cramp in both legs, Murray eased through the third set to set up a clash with fifth seed David Ferrer.

"I really didn't do anything well today," said Murray, who is still without a coach after his split from Mark Petchey earlier this month.

"But I kept fighting and that was the most important thing.

"I just need to play more on clay. I am going to practise as much as possible after this tournament and then if I can win a couple of matches in (the Masters Series events in) Rome and Hamburg, then I should be all right."

Another former French Open champion, Albert Costa, prolonged his career for at least another day after beating American Vince Spadea 7-6, 4-6, 6-1.

Costa, who has announced that he is to retire after the event, will next play Dominik Hrbaty.

Russian seeds Igor Andreev and Dmitriy Tursunov both went out. Andreev, seeded 11th, was beaten 4-6, 7-6, 7-6 by fellow Russian Teimuraz Gabashvili, while 14th seed Tursunov was ousted 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 by Spanish wildcard Carlos Cuadrado.

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