Valencia: Top-seeded David Ferrer laboured past a stubborn Olivier Rochus 7-5, 7-5 Tuesday at the Valencia Open, where Nicolas Almagro sent former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero into retirement with his own first-round victory.
Rochus saved five break points before succumbing to Ferrer on serve in the 10th game of the second set. The fifth-ranked Spaniard then held on despite 42 unforced errors, releasing a big sigh of relief after closing it out in 2 hours, 13 minutes when the Belgian netted.
Almagro dispatched Ferrero 7-5, 6-3 in an all-Spanish matchup that capped a 13-year career that included Ferrero reaching the top ranking in 2001. He also won 16 titles, including the 2003 French Open.
Almagro not only helps his chances of reaching the World Tour Finals with each win but of maintaining his position as a singles player for Spain in next month's Davis Cup final at the Czech Republic. Feliciano Lopez's hopes of replacing him were dealt a blow with a 6-3, 7-6 (4) loss to Sam Querrey of the United States, who plays Almagro next.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will have to clinch his place for next month's season-ending World Tour Finals at the Paris Masters after the Frenchman retired with a back injury trailing 3-1 against Xavier Malisse of Belgium.
Tsonga holds the eighth and final qualifying spot ahead of Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic, who hurt his chances after also retiring to injury trailing 5-4 against Gilles Simon of France.
Alexandr Dolgopolov and Jurgen Melzer both won their first-round matches.