Robredo, Ferrero advance after three sets in Sweden

AP , BASTAD, SWEDEN

Wed, Jul 12, 2006 - Page 18

Seeded Spaniards Tommy Robredo and Juan Carlos Ferrero were extended to three sets in their opening-round matches at the Swedish Open on Monday.

Second-seeded Robredo rallied to beat Gilles Simon of France 4-6, 6-1, 6-4; while eighth-seeded Ferrero defeated Swedish wild card Ervin Eleskovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Later, top-seeded Nikolay Davydenko of Russia beat Spain's Alberto Martin 6-4, 6-1.

Robredo has reached the semifinals at the clay-court Swedish Open three times. In May, he won the Hamburg Masters.

Ferrero, a former world No. 1, was up a set and 2-0. But the 579th-ranked, 19-year-old Eleskovic won six games to one to force a decider.

Eleskovic doubled-faulted three times when trailing 3-4 in the third set for Ferrero's break.

In other first-round matches, Robin Soderling of Sweden ousted Boris Pashanski of Serbia 6-2, 6-3; and Oliver Marach of Austria topped Filip Prpic of Sweden 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2.

Two-time French champion and defending Swedish Open champion Rafael Nadal withdrew from the tournament last week. The No. 2-ranked Spaniard, who lost Sunday's Wimbledon final to Roger Federer, has won a record 60 matches on clay.

Top-seeded Ivan Ljubicic made a comfortable switch from grass to clay in beating Spanish veteran Albert Portas 6-3, 7-6 (5) in his Swiss Open first-round match on Monday.

Coming off his best run at Wimbledon -- three rounds -- Ljubicic was satisfied with the ease of his return to clay. He broke Portas at 4-3 in the first set, and made 10 aces.

"Roland Garros was not a while ago, it was just a few weeks back, and I still have the [clay-court] game," he said.

"I reached the semifinals at the French Open so it's given me huge confidence, and I feel really comfortable on this surface," he said.

Next up for the world No. 4 was 341st-ranked Marco Chiudinelli of Switzerland, who defeated Davide Sanguinetti of Italy 6-3, 6-2, winning the last five games.