Tennis: Gulf makes Tour debut

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The Independent Online
GORAN IVANISEVIC, last year's Wimbledon runner-up from Croatia, defeated the Dutch qualifier, Henrik-Jan Davids, in straight sets on the opening day of the Qatar Open tournament in Doha yesterday.

Ivanisevic failed to produce the sort of firepower which has made him such a feared performer but he still cruised to a smooth 6-2, 6-4 victory in front of a capacity Centre Court crowd watching the first ATP event to be held in the Gulf.

'This is the first time I've played outdoors for three months and I was a long way off my best,' Ivanisevic said after his 71-minute victory over his occasional practice partner.

'Henrik is a very dangerous player so I was relieved to get past him. It was nice being first on Centre Court,' he added.

Ivanisevic now faces the Russian, Andrei Olhovskiy, who defeated Italy's Claudio Pistolesi 6-3, 6-2. Stefan Edberg, of Sweden, who is striving to regain the world No 1 position from the American, Jim Courier, and Boris Becker are scheduled to play their first matches today.

In two minor upsets, the Frenchman, Thierry Champion, ranked No 98 in the world, was beaten by a wild card entry, Andrej Merinov of Ukraine, 6-4, 7-5, while another Frenchman, Stephane Simian, outlasted Martin Damm, of the Czech Republic, who is 15 places above him, 6-4, 1-6, 6-2.

QATAR OPEN MEN'S TOURNAMENT (Doha): First round: G Ivanisevic (Croa) bt H-J Davids (Neth) 6-2 6-4; A Merinov (Ukr) bt T Champion (Fr) 6-4 7-5; G Pozzi (It) bt D Nargiso (It) 6-4 7-6; S Simian (Fr) bt M Damm (Cz) 6-4 1-6 6-2; J Siemerink (Neth) bt A Antonitsch (Aut) 2-6 7-6 6-0; A Olhovskiy (Rus) bt C Pistolesi (It) 6-3 6-2; A Cherkasov (Rus) bt G Schaller (Aut) 4-6 6-4 6-4; S Simian (Fr) bt M Damm (Cz Rep) 6-4 1-6 6-2; Younis El Aynaoui (Mor) bt M Gollner (Ger) 7-6 4-6 7-6.

Ivan Lendl continues to be troubled by a groin strain and is in doubt for next week's New South Wales Open, the traditional preparation for the year's first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, which begins in Melbourne on 18 January. Lendl was forced to withdraw from the recent Grand Slam Cup in Munich with the injury and has been undergoing subsequent daily treatment at his Connecticut home.