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MONTE CARLO, Monaco (AP) _ Juan Carlos Ferrero beat Carlos Moya 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 Sunday to win the Monte Carlo Masters, the first major clay-court tournament of the season.

It was the second-seeded Spaniard's first title since the Italian Open, another major clay-court event, nearly a year ago. Before coming to Monte Carlo, Ferrero hadn't won more than two matches in a row in 2002.

He figures to be a top challenger to three-time champion Gustavo Kuerten at the French Open, which starts next month. Ferrero lost to Kuerten in the semifinals at Roland Garros the past two years.

In 2001, Ferrero won a total of 34 matches on clay, just two fewer than Kuerten.

Moya, also from Spain, was seeking his first major title since winning the 1998 French Open.

Kuerten, who won in Monte Carlo last year, missed the tournament because he is recovering from hip surgery.