RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Former world number one Gustavo Kuerten opened his farewell tour with a first round defeat in front of his home fans on Tuesday, the 31-year-old falling 7-5 6-1 to Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq at the Brazil Open.
One day after he and his partner Andre Baran were knocked out of the doubles tournament, the three-times French Open winner struggled to cope with the intense heat of the Sauipe court and was no match for the world number 74.
Kuerten has battled hip problems since he was last ranked world number one eight years ago and has decided to retire after this season’s French Open starting at the end of May.
“I have loved this sport and it has given me the most intense moments of my life,” Kuerten said in an emotional speech over the public address system following his defeat.
“I would like to apologise... I would like to keep playing but I just cannot.” (Writing by Gareth Chetwynd; Editing by John O’Brien)
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