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David Ferrer defeats Malek Jaziri on Tuesday in Buenos Aires. | ATP Tour


David Ferrer showed on Tuesday at the Argentina Open that his final ATP Tour events won’t be a mere nostalgia moment.

After accepting hugs on court from players past and present, including Diego Schwartzman, Guillermo Coria and Gabriela Sabatini, Ferrer got down to business for his first-round clash against Malek Jaziri of Tunisia. The Spaniard showed his trademark grit in saving six set points during a wild first-set tie-break before rolling to a 7-6(13), 6-3 victory.

Ferrer is competing in a handful of ATP Tour events before finishing his epic 19-year career this May at the Mutua Madrid Open. Having won the Argentina Open three times (2012-2014), it was clear why Buenos Aires would be a part of his farewell tour.

The Spaniard missed a set point opportunity on Jaziri’s serve at 5-4, then squandered two set points at 6/4 in the tie-break. With the crowd urging Ferrer on, he dug deep to save six set points before earning another opportunity at 13/12. Jaziri erased a fourth set point with a strong serve, but pushed a forehand wide at 14/13 to end the set after 74 minutes.

Perhaps still ruminating over his missed opportunities, Jaziri’s level dropped and Ferrer quickly raced to a double break advantage in the second set. Although he couldn’t convert on three match points on his serve at 5-2, Ferrer regrouped in the next game to break Jaziri and raised his arms in triumph.

Ferrer will look to continue his Buenos Aires swan song as he next faces fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Ferrer leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head 6-1, but Ramos-Vinolas won their most recent match three years ago on the red clay of Bastad.

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Other first-round matches saw fifth seed Joao Sousa of Portugal end the winning streak of local favourite and Cordoba Open titlist Juan Ignacio Londero with a 6-3, 6-4 victory. He’ll take on Pablo Cuevas in the second round, with the Uruguayan needing just 65 minutes to record a 6-2, 6-1 win over qualifier Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador.

Roberto Carballes Baena scored the most dominant result of the day, requiring exactly one hour to beat Taro Daniel of Japan 6-1, 6-0. The Spaniard will face qualifier Lorenzo Sonego of Italy in the next round.

Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia put together the biggest comeback of Tuesday’s play, fighting back from down a set and 2-4 to defeat local favorite Guido Andreozzi 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-2. His reward is another Argentine battle in the second round against No. 4 seed Diego Schwartzman.

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Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer improved to 4-4 on the young season with a 6-3, 7-6(3) win against seventh seed Dusan Lajovic of Serbia. Mayer will next meet countryman and Cordoba Open finalist Guido Pella, a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victor over local wild card Francisco Cerundolo.

Spain’s Jaume Munar overcame a mid-match surge against two-time ATP Tour titlist Federico Delbonis to prevail 6-2, 2-6, 6-1. The 21-year-old Munar, who reached the semi-finals of the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, saved six of eight break points and will play second seed Fabio Fognini of Italy for a place in the quarter-finals. Fognini beat Munar earlier this year at the Australian Open.





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