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Goran Ivanisevic's comeback after almost a year off the men's tennis tour lasted only 44 minutes before an injury to his right knee forced him to quit the Dubai Open on Monday. Despite a chronic bad shoulder, Ivanisevic returned earlier this month for Davis Cup play.

Playing his first ATP Tour match since March 2002, the lanky Croat slipped while running for a wide ball as Russian qualifier Andrei Stoliarov led 6-5 but trailed 40-15 on his serve. The former Wimbledon champion received treatment, levelled at 6-6 when Stoliarov netted a backhand, but collapsed in agony after the first point of the tiebreak. Disgusted, he hurled his racket to his courtside chair before shaking hands with his opponent.

"I was running at 15-40, and I said to myself, 'Don't run, don't slide', because I thought it was too far, but I did. Then I heard a click and I don't know if it's a strain or broken," said Ivanisevic before leaving for a local hospital.

The immediate diagnosis from ATP trainer Juan Reque was that it was a ligament sprain above the knee.

Ivanisevic, who missed nearly a year of competition after undergoing surgery to his left shoulder, was obviously well prepared for his ATP Tour comeback and looked sharp, especially in the early stages. His serve was as dangerous as ever, and he also made some fine winning returns.

Although clearly distressed about his knee, the 31-year old was satisfied with the way his shoulder held up. "The shoulder was hurting, but I was happy with the way I served, happy the way I played," he said. "Was a really good match for me. I did some double-faults, but that's normal for me. I didn't play for 11 months and some things just don't come overnight."

"But I hit the ball very clean. I served at 193 kilometres (119.9 miles) per hour which I think is okay. I think the shoulder is not a problem now, just the knee. I just expected to finish the match with not too much pain and to play good, but then something else came up I didn't even think about."

Ironically, it was Stoliarov that Ivanisevic faced when he tested his fitness by playing a Challenger event in Heilbron, Germany, last month. Ivanisevic won that match in three sets, but retired in the second round. Two weeks ago, he won a doubles rubber as Croatia defeated the United States 4-1 in a Davis Cup tie.
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