Wed, May 17, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Hamburg claims toll on big guns

TENNIS Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer pulled out after their Rome clash, while Carlos Moya and 2003 champion Guillermo Coria both had first-round exits

AP , HAMBURG, GERMANYAP, ROME

A tumultuous Monday at the Hamburg Masters was marked by the withdrawal of the world's top two players, illness and a crater in the stadium court.

Two-time defending champion Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal pulled out citing fatigue following their clash in Rome on Sunday, Australian Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis retired feeling dizzy and stomach pains, and former No. 1 Carlos Moya and 2003 Hamburg champ Guillermo Coria continued to slump with first-round exits.

Moya was beaten 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 by fifth-seeded James Blake, who also had to overcome thigh cramps, and a recurring crater in the court behind the baseline to end a five-match losing streak.

Their match was delayed several times while officials refilled the hole Blake kept creating with his foot during his serve.

He needed an injury break for cramping legs before the 11th game of the third set, but won it and broke Moya in the last game, only his second win in seven matchups with the Spaniard.

"It wasn't a reward for being fifth seed, playing a former French Open champion and the former world No. 1," Blake said.

"But I beat one of the best clay-court players in the world. I feel pretty good about that. I think maybe the cramps helped. I wasn't thinking ahead about winning the match, just getting through it," he said.

Coria fell to Novak Djokovic of Serbia-Montenegro 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, the second time in two weeks he's lost to a qualifier.

A former French Open finalist, Coria is 8-9 this season.

Baghdatis became dizzy and pained during his match with 15th-seeded Radek Stepanek. He attributed it to antibiotics he took for three days in Rome last week. After a thorough on-court examination, the Cypriot's attempt to continue was short-lived and he quit in the next game, down 6-3, 3-1.

"I was sick in Rome but was feeling better lately," Baghdatis said. "Today, though, I wasn't feeling well. I started to feel better after four or five games, but then there was a long rally and I felt I couldn't breathe, my heart was pumping really fast."

Marat Safin, twice a runner-up in Hamburg, lost to Brazilian qualifier Flavio Saretta 5-7, 6-0, 6-4, and another former Australian Open champ Thomas Johansson was beaten by Paul-Henri Mathieu of France 6-3, 6-4.

Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic, who became the highest seed in the absence of Federer and Nadal, defeated German qualifier Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-3.

Also winners were No. 8-seeded Tommy Robredo, No. 12 Mario Ancic, No. 13 Jarkko Nieminen, and No. 16 David Ferrer.

Former French Open winner Juan Carlos Ferrero battled past Belgium's Olivier Rochus 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-3 but French teen Richard Gasquet, last year's runner-up, bowed to Belgium's Kristof Vliegen 6-4, 6-2.

"It was really difficult for me to answer in this match," Gasquet said.

Former champions Venus Williams and Martina Hingis won first-round matches at the Italian Open on Monday.

Williams, the 1999 winner, beat Czech qualifier Zuzana Ondraskova 6-3, 6-2. Hingis, the 1998 Rome titleholder, eliminated Italian qualifier Sara Errani 6-0, 6-1.

Former French Open champ Anastasia Myskina and 12th-seeded Nicole Vaidisova were also winners, but No. 14 Elena Likhovtseva was upset by Serbia's Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 6-3.

Playing in only her third event of the year, Williams came off a quarterfinal run in Warsaw with a less-than-convincing start in Rome. She broke six times, lost three of her own service games, and committed five double faults. She'll run into another Czech, Lucie Safarova, who won the Gold Coast title this year.

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