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Ferrer beats Haase at ASB Classic in New Zealand

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Four-time champion David Ferrer opened play Tuesday in ASB Classic with a 6-2, 6-1 first-round win over Robin Haase.

The 36-year-old Ferrer said before Tuesday’s match that this is his last season on the ATP Tour and he will not be returning as a competitor to a tournament that he won in 2007 and in three straight years from 2011 to 2013.

“I’m really happy because winning today means I will have a chance to play one more match again on this court,” Ferrer said. “It’s very emotional for me to be here.”

Ferrer had good reason to enjoy himself Tuesday. Ferrer broke Haase’s serve in the third, fifth and seventh games of the first set and didn’t drop a point on his own serve until the sixth game when Haase broke back.

In the eighth game, Ferrer took set point with an ace, gave it up with his only double fault of the match and served out the set in just half an hour.

He was quickly on top again in the second set, breaking Haase in the third game, again the fifth and clinching the set and match against serve in the seventh.

In other matches Tuesday, sixth seeded Hyung Cheong fell 7-5, 6-3 to New Zealand wild-card Rubin Statham, and Argentina’s Leonard Mayer beat American Steven Johnson by the same score. Peter Gojowczyk of Germany beat Guido Pella of Argentina 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.

Benedetti wins 12th stage; Polanc takes Giro lead

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PINEROLO, Italy (AP) Cesare Benedetti won the 12th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Thursday for his first victory as a professional while Jan Polanc took the overall leader’s pink jersey from UAE Emirates teammate Valerio Conti.

Benedetti, an Italian with the Bora team who has been a support rider for his entire career, was part of an early breakaway then accelerated from a select group of riders in a sprint finish.

“I’ve worked a lot for the others in the past but today I got my opportunity,” Benedetti said. “I’m not (usually) a winner.”

Benedetti required 3 hours, 41 minutes to complete the 158-kilometer (98-mile) leg from Cuneo to Pinerolo, which featured one major climb and another shorter but steeper ascent just before the finish.

Damiano Caruso crossed second and Eddie Dunbar came third, each with the same time as Benedetti. Polanc, a Slovenian who was also in the breakaway, finished 25 seconds behind.

In the overall standings, Polanc leads Primoz Roglic by 4 minutes, 7 seconds. Vincenzo Nibali, one of the pre-race favorites, is fifth overall, 5:51 behind.

“It was a team tactic that I would go in the breakaway so we could have a better control over the race,” Polanc said. “It was also a way to keep the pink jersey in the team.”

Mikel Landa and Miguel Angel Lopez attacked on the first-category climb to Montoso and gained about 30 seconds on the other overall favorites.

Before the stage began, sprinters Caleb Ewan and Elia Viviani withdrew from the race. Ewan won two stages, including the 11th leg a day earlier, while Viviani posted three second-place finishes.

Stage 13 on Friday is one of the race’s toughest, with two category one climbs and one category ascent, along with an uphill finish at the end of the 196-kilometer leg from Pinerolo to Ceresole Reale.

The Giro ends June 2 in Verona.

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Tsonga rallies past qualifier to reach quarterfinals in Lyon

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LYON, France (AP) Former champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga rallied past Canadian qualifier Steven Diez on Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals and extend his perfect record at the Lyon Open.

Tsonga, the 2017 champion, came within two points of losing but finally prevailed 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 on his sixth match point after 2 hours, 42 minutes.

The clay-court event serves as a warmup for the French Open, which starts Sunday in Paris.

“It was good for me to play a long match like this,” Tsonga said. “I haven’t played a match this long for a while. I am not playing my best level, but I am giving everything mentally and that gives me confidence.”

Tsonga will next take on top-seeded Nikoloz Basilashvili, who beat lucky loser Tristan Lamasine 7-5, 7-5.

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