Tuesday, August 10, 1999


Healthy again, Enqvist eyes return to top 10

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Michael Chang proclaimed "It's my week" during practice Monday.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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        MASON — Thomas Enqvist was a hot name in 1995 and '96, which he finished seventh and ninth, respectively, in the world rankings. He reached the semis here both years.

        Then ankle and foot injuries hit. He lost his first match here in 1997 and missed the event last year, struggling to stay in the world's top 30. The 25-year-old Swede, currently ranked 19th, beat qualifier Wayne Arthurs 7-5, 7-6 (7-1) Monday in the first round.

        “I haven't been winning much lately, which is frustrating,” Enqvist said. “I'm hoping I can get it started here.”

        Now healthy, Enqvist eyes a return to the top 10. “That's not an unrealistic goal,” he said. “I know I have the game that I could win any tournament or beat any player.”

        VACEK WARNING: Patrick Rafter's opening match — a second-round meeting with Daniel Vacek — is dangerous.

        Vacek, a 6-foot-3 Czech ranked No. 60, loves blasting serves on hard courts. Last year, Vacek reached the quarterfinals in back-to-back weeks in Toronto and here.

        Rafter leads Vacek 2-1, but both Rafter's victories were on grass. Vacek won the last meeting in straight sets last year in Basel, Switzerland.

        “It's always good when you beat someone like that once, so you know you can do it,” Vacek said. “He's definitely one of the best in the world. I hope I can play him as well as last time.”

        STOLLE'S PICKS: Fred Stolle, the Australian tennis legend and ESPN analyst, won't stun you with his ATP prediction. “I'm probably a little biased when I say Rafter's a good bet,” he said.

        Stolle foresees a Rafter-Pete Sampras final, though he warns of a potential upset of Sampras.

        “(Magnus) Larsson bothers Pete at times and has a winning record over him recently,” winning three of the last four, Stolle said. “And (Rich ard) Krajicek is the only player on tour who really owns Pete,” leading the series 6-2 with four straight victories.

        NEW RANKINGS: Yevgeny Kafelnikov, the runner-up in Montreal on Sunday, climbed to No. 2 in the new ATP Tour rankings, which came out Monday. Pete Sampras stayed on top for the second straight week and record 272nd of his career.

        The rest of the top 10:

        Andre Agassi (3), Patrick Rafter (4), Tim Henman (5), Gustavo Kuerten (6), Todd Martin (7), Alex Corretja (8), Greg Rusedski (9) and Carlos Moya (10).

        WASHINGTON OUT: In just his second match of 1999, MaliVai Washington lost to No. 51 Arnaud Di Pasquale 6-4, 6-3. Washington, formerly No. 11 in the world, is trying to come back from two knee surgeries in 21/2 years.

        “I'm going to be anxious to see how it feels tomorrow,” Washington said. “... I wish I had played better. I think I gave him a lot of free points and that was disappointing.”

        SAMPRAS WORKOUT: About 1:30 p.m. Monday, Sampras went through a one-hour workout on Court 5.

        With four matches in progress, an estimated 2,000 spectators jammed the seating area, unaware that Sampras was filming a TV show, Beyond the Sport, with former major league baseball player Keith Hernandez.

        “This is the final of 13 shows that go behind the scenes in various sports,” Hernandez said.

        MACKAY FETED: Barry Mackay, a three-time state singles champion (1951-53) at Wyoming High School, will be honored before tonight's evening matches.

        A television commentator for Home Box Office, Mackay became the first Big Ten player to win an NCAA singles title for Michigan in 1957.

        Ranked No. 1 in 1960, Mackay won 17 tournaments, including the U.S. Clay Court and U.S. Indoor.

        ATTENDANCE: A opening-round record crowd of 10,838 attended Monday's morning-afternoon session.

        “This was the first Monday session that we sold grounds passes,” Associate Director Elaine Bruening said. “These passes allow fans on all of the courts except Center Court.”

        Today's crowd could exceed Monday's with 900 seats available for the morning-afternoon session and less than 100 for the evening matches. There are 2,800 tickets remaining for Wednesday, 1,500 for the afternoon session.

        Saturday night's semifinal match and Sunday's championship are sold out. Tickets remain for the afternoon semifinal Saturday. For tickets, call 651-0303.

        STATISTICS: Top stats from Monday's matches:

        • Most aces: Wayne Arthurs (19)

        • Fastest serve: Wayne Arthurs (124 mph)

        • Most break points saved: Jiri Novak (7)

        • Longest Match: Jiri Novak vs. Axel Pretzsch (2:05).

        • Shortest Match: Armaud De Pasquale vs. MaliVai Washington (58 minutes)

        Contributing: Neil Schmidt, Michael Perry, Dave Schutte


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