Tennis: Kafelnikov ruled out as injuries mount up

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The Independent Online
The world No 4, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, yesterday joined a growing casualty list of top seeds as injury ravaged the field before the start of the Australian Open.

Kafelnikov was forced to pull out with a broken hand, while doubts surround the fitness of his fellow seeds, Jim Courier and Thomas Enqvist.

Britain's No 1 Tim Henman, in tremendous form, will face home hero Mark Philippoussis in the opening round. Greg Rusedski must overcome the 14th seed Felix Mantilla of Spain.

The withdrawal of Kafelnikov removed a potential threat to the top-seeded world No 1 Pete Sampras, who was paired against a qualifier in yesterday's first-round draw. The defending champion Boris Becker was handed a tougher assignment against the improving young Spaniard Carlos Moya, who is ranked 28 in the world.

Becker, the sixth seed, lost in three sets against Moya at last year's Paris Open, their only previous meeting. "Carlos is not a typical Spanish clay court player because he is able to play on quicker surfaces, which is going to make it more dangerous," Becker said.

In the women's draw, the world No 1, top seed and overwhelming favourite, Steffi Graf, will play Janette Husarova of Slovakia in the first round. The Swiss teenager Martina Hingis, seeded fourth and regarded as the biggest threat to stop the German winning her fifth Australian Open, is in the opposite half of the draw, clearing the way for a possible final meeting.

Sampras and Becker were also kept apart in the draw and can only meet in the final on 26 January. If Sampras beats the qualifier and the next two matches go his way, as expected, his first seeded opponent should be the No 16, Alberto Berasategui of Spain, in the fourth round.

The former world No 1 Courier, the Australian Open champion in 1992 and 1993 and seeded No 11 this year, has a hamstring strain. The seventh seed Enqvist was struck down on Thursday with a badly infected blister on his right hand, and is also doubtful for the tournament. The Wimbledon champion, Richard Krajicek of the Netherlands, America's Todd Martin and the 1993 Wimbledon finalist, Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic, have already been forced out through injury.

Mark Petchey, the 26-year-old Davis Cup player from Essex, beat Australia's Des Tyson 6-2, 6-3 in the second qualifying round. Now Petchey will meet another Australian, Lleyton Hewitt, in the third qualifying round and, if successful, will qualify for the main event.

Andrew Richardson, the 22-year-old Lincolnshire left-hander, joined Petchey in the third qualifying round when he defeated Mexico's Alejandro Hernandez 6-3, 6-4, and will now meet Spain's Oscar Burrieza for a place in the first round.

Sam Smith, the British No 1, beat Daphne Van De Zande of Belgium 6-2, 6-7, 6-2 in the first round of the women's qualifying competition.

Australian Open draw, Sporting Digest, page 25

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