Tennis: Lazy day at the seaside for El Aynaoui

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The Independent Online
THE FIRST man to advance to the semi-finals of the Samsung Open yesterday did not have to lift a racket. Younes El Aynaoui, the No 3 seed from Morocco, had a walkover after his German opponent, Hendrik Dreekmann, became the latest addition to the ATP Tour's injury list.

Dreekmann strained his left thigh while defeating Arnaud Di Pasquale, the French No 6 seed, 6-2, 6-4, to reach the quarter-finals on Thursday. Dreekmann's withdrawal yesterday morning at least relieved El Aynaoui of the boredom of waiting around for the rain to stop. Play was not possible before 4.15 pm, but could have taken place earlier had the West Hants Club invested in drainage for their clay courts.

El Aynaoui's will play the unseeded Romanian Adrian Voinea, who defeated Germany's Marc-Kevin Goellner, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2. El Aynaoui, a 28-year-old from Rabat, has had his share of injury problems. In February 1998 he underwent surgery to his right ankle for the second time in 15 months and did not return until the following June. None the less, he raised his ranking from No 444 to No 49 last year, and is currently No 26.

The prospect of there being two Moroccans in the last four ended when Karim Alami, from Casablanca, the No 8 seed, was unable to coax Sweden's Thomas Enqvist beyond two sets, try though he did before the top seed prevailed, 6-3, 7-5. Enqvist will play Austria's Stefan Koubek, the No 5 seed, who eliminated Sweden's Magnus Gustafsson, 6-3, 6-2.

Enqvist, ranked No 17 in the world, made an impressive start to the season, winning the 14th ATP Tour singles title of his career in Adelaide, and advancing to his first Grand Slam singles final at the Australian Open, where he was defeated by Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov. Enqvist only played 17 events in 1998 because of an injury to his right ankle.

The 25-year-old from Stockholm was not necessarily one of the players Brad Gilbert, Andre Agassi's coach, had in mind when venturing the opinion last weekend at the United States Open that Agassi and Pete Sampras would continue to prosper "because some of the younger guys haven't stepped up". However, he was beaten in the first round by Germany's Tommy Haas, the No 14 seed.

Tim Henman, another first- round loser at the US Open, will try to gain ATP Tour ranking points in Toulouse rather than play for the $6m (pounds 3.7m) in prize-money on offer at the Grand Slam Cup in Munich the week after next. The British No 1, who has only won three of his eight matches, has been given a wild card for Toulouse, where he will be the top seed with a world ranking of No 6.

Results, Digest, page 26