Monday, August 09, 1999

Pretzsch, ranked No. 123, wins ATP berth

Enquirer contributor

Axel Pretzsch won his qualifying match 6-4, 6-4 Sunday to make the main draw of the ATP Championship, where he faces Jiri Novak.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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        MASON — Opportunities to play against the best tennis players in the world have been rare for Axel Pretzsch, a 23-year-old from Hamburg, Germany.

        That may explain Pretzsch's desire to draw the highest-ranked player possible in the main draw of the Great American Insurance ATP Championship, which begins today at the ATP Tennis Center in Mason.

        “I need to play the best to get experience and let me know where I stand,” Pretzsch said. “I may lose 6-4, 6-4, but it's the chance to play them that's important.

        Pretzsch, ranked No.123, took a major step toward the big time with a 6-4, 7-5 upset victory over No.4 seeded Bernd Karbacher in the rain-plagued qualifier Sunday at the ATP Stadium.

• Ramon Delgano d. Michael Joyce 6-3, 6-2
• Mark Woodforde d. Mose Navarra 6-0, 6-3
• Axel Pretzsch d. Bernd Karbacher 6-4, 7-5
• Ivan Ljubicic d. Sebastien Lareau 6-1, 7-6
• Wayne Arthurs d. Max Mirnyi 6-3, 6-4
• Wayne Black d. Martin Damm 6-3, 0-0
• Arnaud Clement d. Alex O'Brien 6-2, 2-6, 7-5
        Pretzsch was one of seven players who won qualifying matches to earn spots in the ATP main draw, a Mercedes Super 9 tournament.

        Using a strong serve and a good forehand, Pretzsch was in control from the start and remained undefeated (3-0) against Karbacher, the No.90 ranked player.

        Pretzsch made the main draw at the du Maurier Open in Montreal last week but lost in the first round.

        Instead of playing a name like Todd Martin or Thomas Enqvist Pretzsch drew Jiri Novak in the ATP first round, with the winner playing the winner of the Albert Costa/Andrew Ilie match.

        Other qualifiers advancing included Arnaud Clement Mark Woodforde, Ramon Delgado, Wayne Arthurs, Wayne Black and Ivan Ljubicic. Six of the top eight seeds in the qualifier advanced.

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        Delgado, a 23-year-old from Paraguay ranked No.88, dominated in two qualifying matches and could be a sleeper in the tournament. He drew Martin, the No.9 seed, in a first-round match.

        “I've had shoulder problems (tendinitis), but it's much better now,” Delgado said. “Before I had the problems, I was ranked 52 last year, and I'm on my way back up.”

        Delgado has an impressive resume, including a second-round victory over Pete Sampras in the 1997 French Open.

        “That was the best win of my career and a big accomplishment for my country,” Delgado said. “I won the next match but lost in the fourth round.”

        Hard-serving Wayne Arthurs of Australia, who served 111 consecutive games without a break at Wimbledon, also drew a tough first round opponent: Enqvist, seeded 13th.

        In doubles, Kelly Jones and Dan Kronauge were eliminated in a first-round qualifier, losing to Brandon Coupe and Robbie Koenig 6-3, 6-4 on Center Court.

        Champions of the Thomas E. Price Metropolitan Tournament, Jones and Kronauge were awarded an at-large berth in the qualifier.

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