Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Trailing badly, Guga advances as opponent is injured

Wimbledon notebook

The Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England - Three-time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten seemed on his way out of Wimbledon, where he was making his first appearance in three years.

The Brazilian trailed Dutchman John van Lottum 2-6, 3-2 on Centre Court, but Van Lottum hurt his back while serving in the second set. He was treated for 10 minutes on the court but was unable to continue. He went back to the service line, tossed the ball and realized he couldn't play any longer.

The Dutchman walked off the court in tears. Kuerten, who reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon four years ago, advanced to the second round.

THEY WERE JUST 17: Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal were both 17 when they made their Wimbledon debuts. Nadal fared a good deal better.

The left-handed Spaniard scored a 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory over big-serving Mario Ancic of Croatia on Monday to reach the second round.

Agassi first played Wimbledon in 1987, losing 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 to ninth-seeded Henry Leconte in the opening round. Agassi would go on to win the title in 1992, but he has not forgotten his first impressions.

"It was a short experience, about an hour and seven minutes," he said. "I swore I'd never be back. It rained a lot the week before and I didn't get a whole lot of practice."

DOUBLE DUTY: Todd Martin has more to do these days than play tennis. He's a leader in a players' campaign to squeeze more prize money out of the slam tournaments.

Martin struggled into the second round of Wimbledon on Monday with a 6-7 (4), 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4 victory over clay-court specialist Fernando Vicente.

The 32-year-old Martin is a two-time semifinalist at Wimbledon. He next meets Kuerten.

As the ATP Player Council president, Martin is involved in negotiations with the Grand Slam tournaments. The top 80 men have threatened to stage alternative events to Wimbledon and the Australian, French and U.S. Opens if they don't receive more prize money.

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