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Rediff.com  » Sports » Kuerten says farewell to Sony Ericsson Open

Kuerten says farewell to Sony Ericsson Open

March 27, 2008 09:08 IST

Former world number one Gustavo Kuerten lost 6-1, 7-5 to Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean on Wednesday in his last appearance at the Sony Ericsson Open.

The Brazilian, plagued by a long time hip injury but granted a wildcard into the Miami draw, has said he will retire after this year's French Open starting in May unless he receives a wildcard into the Olympic Games in Beijing in August.

"I think it is a great decision that I did to play at least (a) few more tournaments for myself and to be able to enjoy," said Kuerten.

Urged on by a small crowd chanting "Guga, Guga", the three times French Open champion did his best to send the match into a third set and held even with the 52nd-ranked Grosjean until near the end of the second.

Saving two break points on serve in the 10th game, Grosjean finally had the winning answer on the third break point when he hit a backhand down the line.

"The first set I thought maybe would be too fast for him and I (would) not be able to enjoy so much," Kuerten said. "But then luckily I was wrong. Then I had some great feelings in the second."

Kuerten has never fully recovered from a hip injury in which surgery offered limited results. Frequently when serving, he could be seen adjusting his hip with his hand.

"It's sliding a little bit to the side, so I have to put it back," Kuerten said of his on-court realignment. "But to be able to play and perform like the guys, for me it's really difficult. It would be impossible.

"That's probably the main thing that makes me decide to stop."

A finalist in Miami in 2000, Kuerten pushed Pete Sampras to four sets with the last three going to tiebreakers in that championship match.

"Playing Pete in the final, that was the first time I had that experience in my life," Kuerten said.

"That day in the final I remember the atmosphere on the court was really amazing. Not only we played some great tennis, a match that lasted for three or four hours, but people getting involved and really being part of the match."

Also in the first round, 35th-ranked Dmitry Tursunov beat fellow Russian Evgeny Korolev 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Albert Montanes of Spain defeated Japan's Kei Nishikori, who won his first career title as a qualifier at Delray Beach last month, 7-5, 6-2.

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