- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 21, 2009

BARCELONA, SPAIN (AP) - Former French Open champion Gaston Gaudio won his first match in nearly two years by Argentine countryman Diego Junqueira 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 at the Barcelona Open on Tuesday.

Gaudio, the Barcelona winner seven years ago, converted six of his seven break opportunities and rallied from a break down in the final set for his first victory at ATP level since the 2007 French Open, a span of 23 months.

“It’s always nice to win after being out for so long, but I’m hardly at a level where I can be happy,” said the 30-year-old Gaudio, the 2004 French champ who was No. 966 in the world. “Tennis is bad business for me, but being away from it is even worse.”

Fourth-seeded David Ferrer held off a stubborn challenge from Kazakhstan qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin to win 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

After taking the first set, the 12th-ranked Spaniard broke for a 3-1 lead in the second frame before Kukushkin used his powerful groundstrokes to score successive breaks and take it to a third set.

But Ferrer steadied himself and put the Kazakh on the run in the fourth game and forced a return into the net for a break point and a 3-1 lead that would propel him to victory.

Igor Andreev also joined Ferrer in the third round when he ousted Spanish wild card Alberto Martin 6-2, 6-2.

In other first-round matches, seeded players Radek Stepanek, Robin Soderling, Richard Gasquet and Feliciano Lopez all won.

The only seed to exit so far was No. 11 Marat Safin after the 2000 champion lost to Juan Monaco of Argentina 6-4, 6-1.

Third-seeded Nikolay Davydenko will open against Arnaud Clement on Wednesday after the Frenchman ousted Guillermo Canas 7-6 (0), 6-3.

Top-ranked Rafael Nadal begins his chase for a fifth straight Godo trophy against Portuguese qualifier Frederico Gil on Wednesday.

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