Fri, Jan 14, 2005 - Page 24 News List

Australian Open line-up hit by injuries

STARS FADE The year's opening grand slam has been robbed of some of its splendor by injuries to Andre Agassi and Mark Philippoussis, and more may follow

AFP , SYDNEY

Australia's Lleyton Hewitt in action yesterday against Sweden's Thomas Johansson during the Medibank International at the Sydney International Tennis Center.

PHOTO: EPA

Australian Open organizers dreaded the ringing of the phone with any more bad news yesterday after a spate of injuries threatened a mini-exodus of stars from the year's opening grand slam next week.

Andre Agassi sent a tremor through tournament organizers when a recurring hip flexor problem forced him to quit his Kooyong Classic match against fellow American Andy Roddick in Melbourne.

The injury, which kept him out of Wimbledon last year, struck again in the first set and the 34-year-old bowed out to face a battle against time to prove his fitness.

"Time will shortly tell me if [playing] is a possibility or not," Agassi said. "It's guesswork, I'll have to wait and see what I'm dealing with, to be quite honest."

A more expected withdrawal came with the official announcement that troubled Australian Mark Philippoussis had not recovered in time from an adductor (groin) muscle injury.

The 28-year-old one-time Wimbledon and US Open finalist suffered the injury playing for Australia in the Hopman Cup in Perth this month and had been racing to recover for a slam where he has yet to get past the fourth round in nine attempts.

Popular Indian doubles specialist Leander Paes was another facing a setback for his Australian Open chances after going over on his left foot playing doubles at the Sydney International yesterday.

Paes, partnering Serbia's Nenad Zimonjic, injured the front of his left foot while making a service return and crashed to the court.

The 31-year-old was taken away in a wheelchair to be assessed and given immediate ice treatment.

American serve-volleyer Taylor Dent, seeded 29 for the Open, conceded his quarter-final with Max Mirnyi at the Sydney International yesterday complaining of dizziness and feeling unwell.

Mirnyi was down a break at 3-4 in the first set when Dent called a halt, not wanting to worsen his condition ahead of the Open.

Dent said he had been advised by a doctor that to stay on court in the intense heat would only jeopardize his chances of playing in the year's opening grand slam.

Rising Swedish star Joachim Johansson was another with injury concerns after withdrawing from the Sydney International with a pulled hamstring on Wednesday.

The world number 11 said he was consulting a doctor to learn the full extent of his injured right hamstring.

And the women's side of the draw was not immune from injuries with former two-time champion Jennifer Capriati pulling out of the Open on Wednesday with a shoulder injury.

The 2001 and 2002 Australian Open champion, ranked 10th in the world, became the third high-profile player to withdraw from the tournament following the injury exits of defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters, both from Belgium.

Davenport also doubtful

Lindsay Davenport remained confident she would play at next week's Australian Open despite pulling out of the Sydney International with bronchitis.

She was due to face Australia's Samantha Stosur in the quarterfinals but withdrew as a precaution with the first grand slam of the season due to start on Monday.

"It's just one of those things where my throat hurts, it's hard to breathe, it's hard to talk, I'm coughing and my body is just below average," a croaky Davenport said.

"It's not good and so I didn't feel like I could go out there and give any kind of match at all," she said.

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