Tennis: A better beginning for Lendl

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The Independent Online
IVAN LENDL made a promising start to the defence of his title in the Seiko Super tournament in Tokyo yesterday when he beat his American compatriot, Tommy Ho, 6-3, 6-4 in the second round.

Lendl, seeded ninth this year, was probably grateful for a first- round bye, having fallen at the first hurdle on nine occasions this season, his worst run for 10 years.

Michael Chang also came through but had to repel a late charge by the South African, Christo van Rensburg, in his 6-3, 6-4 victory.

Van Rensburg, facing a match point on his own serve at 5-1, cut Chang's lead to 5-4 before the third seed served out the match.

The 21-year-old Chinese American is looking for his fourth Asian title this year after winning in Jakarta, Osaka and Kuala Lumpur.

'For me, it's very easy to come to Asia to play,' Chang said. 'Foods are very easy to get used to as well as the people and culture.'

Chang hopes that his success might persuade more people from his background to take up the sport. 'Asia has dominated sports like badminton and table tennis over the last few years, but not yet tennis. I'd like to try to encourage more people to play tennis,' he said. Chang, the 1989 French Open champion, will now meet the Australian Davis Cup player, Mark Woodforde in the third round.

Goran Ivanisevic, of Croatia, the fifth seed, put in only 50 per cent of his first serves but 15 of them were aces as he defeated Jonas Bjorkman, of Sweden, 6-3, 7-5. Stefan Edberg, the top seed takes on his Swedish compatriot, Jonas Svensson, in a third-round match today.

Andre Agassi, the former Wimbledon champion, will not play again this season after pulling out of next month's Paris Open because of a wrist injury, tournament organisers said yesterday.

It marks the end of an abysmal year for the American, who has slipped out of the world's top 20 after a series of problems and disappointing performances.

Agassi, who has been troubled by the injury for several months, last played at the end of September in a Davis Cup tie for the United States against the Bahamas. He was later banned from next year's first round of the team tournament by the International Tennis Federation for refusing to play a 'dead' singles rubber on the final day.