Tennis: Durie prepares for repairs to secure future: Britain's former No 1 faces surgery while Wood's new fitness programme pushes her to new heights

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The Independent Online
JO DURIE faces the prospect of knee surgery immediately after her defence of the Volkswagen National title. This is likely to put the 33- year-old out of the game for three months while Clare Wood endeavours to make further headway as the nation's highest ranked player.

'I'm totally fed up with it,' Durie said yesterday, acknowledging that unless an operation rids her right knee of tendinitis and gives her 'a new lease of life', she can forget the notion of extending her career to at least one more Wimbledon appearance.

She reached this conclusion after experiencing pain when testing the troublesome knee during a week of rigorous training and then winning the opening two rounds of the tournament against teenage opponents, Jo Ward and Lizzie Jelfs.

'It's the first time in nine months I've really pushed myself in practice to the degree that I have to if I want to play properly on the circuit,' Durie said. 'If I'm not doing that then I might as well stop kidding myself and go in next week and get the knee done.'

Wood, 25, won the national championship in 1989, a pause before Durie continued to dominate the event, winning the last three of her seven titles. During the past 15 months, Wood has also pushed herself to the degree she had to in order play properly on the circuit, and has risen to No 84 in the world. But for this effort, the generation gap in the women's game in Britain would be even more embarrassing.

Seeded No 1 to meet Durie in the final, Wood has yet to be pushed here, having dropped only five games en route to the quarter-finals with wins against Caroline Hunt and Michelle Mair. She trusts that fitness and confidence will continue to be her allies.

Admitting that the possibility of alternative employment crossed her mind last year, before she found a new coach, Nigel Sears, Wood has shed much of her former self-doubt, along with a fair amount of weight.

'I have decreased in size, but I haven't noticed it on the scales because I don't weigh myself very often,' she said. 'Literally, it's just exercise. My diet is pretty much the same. I've cut out junk food. I still have the odd chocolate bar, but not as many as I used to.'

To complement playing matches, Wood endeavours to follow a fitness programme designed by Sears for the time she spends at home in Brighton. The activities comprise tennis practice for three hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon; swimming for 45 minutes twice a week; running for 30 minutes twice a week; cycling 15 miles twice a week; training in a gym three times a week; aerobics once a week.

Sears is not her favourite person on a training run, she said, 'when he's two miles ahead of me, disappearing into the mist on the South Downs'. The regimen is not exactly a joy. 'I wouldn't say I hate it; just dislike it. The problem is I used to think I was always working hard. Until I actually started working even harder with Nigel, I was under the illusion that my output was pretty high.'

The women's quarter-final line- up is: Wood v Valda Lake; Mandy Wainwright v Alison Smith; Lucie Ahl v Karen Cross; Caroline Herbert v Durie.

In the men's singles, Andrew Foster is the only seed remaining in Jeremy Bates's half of the draw. The 21-year-old from Stoke, who came close to joining Chris Wilkinson and Mark Petchey on the sidelines yesterday, advanced to the quarter- finals with a 5-7, 7-6, 8-6 win against Neil Broad. Foster now meets Colin Beecher, who eliminated Petchey in the first round.

(Photograph omitted)

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