Thursday, August 12, 1999

Martin falls to friend


Gimelstob, 22, ousts mentor

BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — When Justin Gimelstob saw the draw for the Great American Insurance ATP Championship, he told good friend Todd Martin he was going to win his first match, then beat Martin's butt in the second round.

        Martin responded: “Not very likely.”

        Well, it happened.

        In their first-ever meeting, Gimelstob defeated the ninth-seeded Martin 6-4, 6-4 in 74 minutes Wednesday and advanced to face No.7 seed Richard Krajicek today.

        Martin and Gimelstob practice together often and know each other's games well. A month ago in Newport, R.I., Martin gave Gimelstob “basically a private lesson.”

        That may have backfired.

        “I had my eye on a few of the things that we worked on,” Martin said. “The thing that he struggles with the most was his biggest weapon today — his serve. If he played like that every day, I don't think people would be wondering who's the next American to really assert himself in the game.

        “I was pleased to see that he played well but obviously upset with myself and disappointed I played as poorly as I did.”

        Ranked No.81 at the end of 1997, Martin, 29, is up to No.7 this week.

        He befriended the 22-year-old Gimelstob, ranked 105th, after he was a practice partner for the U.S. Davis Cup team.

        “It became very obvious to him that I was going to need some nurturing, some development,” Gimelstob said, laughing. “He saw that I was willing to learn. I probably consider him my closest friend on the tour. He's one of the guys who has really made an effort to teach me things about tennis, things about life, how to behave, how to prepare, how to deal with losses. Todd's always been there for me.”

        Said Martin: “He's been very respectful and open to things I've suggested to him over the years.”

        All of which made Wednesday's match awkward for both players.

        Now Martin will get time to heal. He has strained ligaments in his right knee, and his stomach has been bothering him, as well as “some other muscular things.”

        “I'm not far away from feeling good,” he said.

        “My year has been good in some ways and bad in some others. I've played fairly well all year ... but "fairly well' gets pretty old. In order to beat the better players, you really need to play well. Recently I've fallen short of being able to raise my game.”

        After their match, Martin told Gimelstob, “Well done,” but wished he had said more.

        “I acted rather rudely,” Martin said. “I would've liked to convey a little more happiness for him than I did, but I'm sure he's embarrassed to even look at me.”

        “I feel bad for him,” Gimelstob said. “I care about Todd a lot, and I know he cares a lot about me. I hope he starts feeling better and playing great.”

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