Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic said goodbye to tennis on Sunday after suffering a 6-0, 6-3 opening defeat to compatriot Ivan Dodig at the Monte Carlo Masters.

The first-round loss was the end of the line for the shaven-headed Croatian icon, who last played in an opening loss in Dubai two months ago.

The Monte Carlo-based veteran, 33, had previously announced that the elite event in the principality which opened the pre-French Open run would be his last hurrah in the sport.

“It was a tough day for me, on the court and off,” said an emotional Ljubicic.

“I had my mind everywhere else except on the tennis court. Obviously I'm completely out of shape. I don't even think it makes any sense to talk about the match today.

“I have to say that I felt like it could end up emotional but I didn't expect these big emotions really. It's the end of something beautiful for me. It's been 20 years and now it's time to do something else.”

After the loss, a tearful Ljubicic was honoured in an on-court ceremony by ATP boss Brad Drewett and tournament director Zeljko Franulovic.

“It's something that really made me proud as well,” said Ljubicic, who helped Croatia to its first Davis Cup triumph in 2005.

The popular Croatian was applauded in the locker room by his fellow players.

“Really, to feel also now walking into the locker room, all the guys standing and clapping, it's something beautiful to see how guys respected me and the way I represented them for many, many years.”

World No. 59 Dodig levelled his record in the series at 2-2 as he put out his senior compatriot, who had said that with two young children and ageing bones he was getting diminishing returns from the game. — AFP

More In: SPORT | Today's Paper