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Ferrer’s career comes to an end with loss in Madrid

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MADRID — David Ferrer’s career came to an end with a 6-4, 6-1 loss to Alexander Zverev in the second round at the Madrid Open on Wednesday.

The 37-year-old Spaniard had announced earlier that this would be his last tournament because he didn’t feel he was fit enough to keep competing at a high level on tour.

Ferrer finished his 20-year career with 27 singles titles, fifth-best among active players behind the top four of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

Ferrer had 733 wins in 1,111 matches, fourth-best among active players.

Visibly overcome by his emotions, Ferrer had a difficult time serving while facing match point, backing off a few times and asking for a towel to wipe his face.

After losing he received a standing ovation from the crowd at the packed “Magic Box” center court, then went back to leave his headband on the ground near the net.

Ferrer spoke for several minutes in a ceremony to honor him, thanking everyone who helped his career.

“I’ll never forget this day,” he said, with his wife and son by his side. “I’ve been very lucky. I’ve always wanted to end my career like this. I couldn’t keep playing at the level that I wanted, but I’m very happy and very proud of my career.”

Messages from other players were shown on the large screens during the ceremony, with most praising Ferrer’s toughness and “never-give-up attitude” on the court.

“All the players are very sad he is retiring,” said Zverev, who also looked moved. “You always left everything on the court, in every single match. It’s a privilege for me to be here playing against you in your last match.”

Ranked 144th entering the Madrid tournament, Ferrer got off to a good start against Zverev, opening a 4-1 lead in the first set. But the defending Madrid Open champion rallied to win the next five games to close out the set and eventually the match.

Ferrer lost to Nadal at the 2013 French Open final, the only time he made it to a Grand Slam title match. Ferrer was No. 3 in the world that year, his highest ever ranking. He was among the top 10 for seven seasons. He also won three Davis Cup titles with Spain.

Wild-card entry Tipsarevic advances at Geneva Open

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GENEVA (AP) Former top-10 player Janko Tipsarevic used his wild-card entry to beat Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 7-5, 7-5 in the Geneva Open first round on Monday.

Now ranked No. 317, the 34-year-old Tipsarevic is back in ATP Tour main draws after missing the 2018 season for hamstring injuries to heal.

Fifth-seeded Radu Albot advanced to the second round on a day when two seeded players lost in the final week of clay-court warmups for the French Open.

Albot beat qualifier Lorenzo Sonego 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3), after 92nd-ranked Hugo Dellien beat eighth-seeded Andreas Seppi 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, and seventh-seeded Matthew Ebden lost to Nicolas Jarry of Chile 6-2, 7-6 (4).

Rain cut short play and gave former No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov a day off after playing through two qualifying rounds.

More AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Pliskova wins Italian Open for biggest clay title of career

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ROME (AP) – Karolina Pliskova captured the biggest clay-court title of her career by beating Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-4 Sunday in the Italian Open final.

Adding to a very consistent year from the 2016 U.S. Open runner-up, the victory will move Pliskova up to No. 2 in the rankings and makes her one of the contenders for the French Open, which starts next weekend.

“I just hope to take the tennis I was playing here to Paris,” Pliskova said. “For sure there’s going to be a chance for me if I play this way.”

Pliskova also reached the Australian Open semifinals and the Miami Open final after opening this season with a title in Brisbane, Australia. But she lost in the second round of her previous two tournaments on clay in Stuttgart, Germany, and Madrid.

“Nobody really gave me chance for this tournament – even me,” Pliskova said. “Before the tournament, I was not super confident, not thinking about the final at all. I was just happy with every match which I played. So it’s little bit like a miracle for me.”

The unseeded Konta appeared nervous at the start, double faulting then landing a backhand into the net to hand Pliskova a break in her opening service game.

In the second set, Pliskova used a swinging forehand volley putaway to break for a 4-3 lead and never looked back.

“It’s always tough playing Karolina,” Konta said. “There’s rarely really a rhythm to the match. She plays with big shots, quite flat, and big serves. It can feel sometimes you’re fighting an uphill battle. That was the case today.”

After converting her third championship point, Pliskova went over and slapped hands with Conchita Martinez, the four-time Rome champion who she recently named her head coach. Pliskova then asked Martinez and the rest of her team to come down onto the court for her victory celebration.

“She loved clay so she knows exactly what I should do,” Pliskova said of Martinez. “There were small differences: movement, maybe to put more topspin on the balls, use drop shots – which I never use, but I start little bit, and to mix also the serves. … I know she loved this tournament. I think she prayed so I could win today.”