Tennis: Lendl makes poor return: Fading champion's disastrous debut

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The Independent Online
IVAN LENDL'S long-awaited debut for the United States ended in disappointment when the former world No 1 was beaten by Germany's Bernd Karbacher in the quarter-finals of the Hopman Cup team event in Perth yesterday.

Karbacher's win gave Germany a 2-0 win over the United States after Anke Huber beat the French Open finalist, Mary Joe Fernandez, 6-2, 7-6 in the women's singles.

Lendl's defeat again raised doubts about his future after he took a seven-week break from the circuit. The Czech- born player, who will be 34 in March, has rejected any thoughts of retirement until the end of this year.

'It tells me quite a few things about my game. I didn't play very well,' Lendl said. 'Whether it was lack of match play or not, we will see.'

Germany, who won the tournament last year, now meet Austria in tomorrow's second semi-final. The Czech combination of Petr Korda and Jana Novotna face Australia in the other semi-final today.

Andrei Medvedev, the world No 6 who was handicapped by injury during Ukraine's first- round defeat, intends to play in this month's Australian Open despite doctor's advice to rest his inflamed right knee.

Definitely missing from the first Grand Slam of the year will be Sergi Bruguera, the French Open champion from Spain, who has pulled out with an unspecified injury. Bruguera joins the former Wimbledon champion, Andre Agassi, as a notable absentee from the Melbourne event.

One of the warm-up tournaments, the Australian hardcourt championships, began yesterday in Adelaide with the Austrian Thomas Muster beating Bryan Shelton, of the United States, 6-2, 6-2 in the first round. Nicklas Kulti, the Swedish defending champion, beat the Swiss Olympic champion, Marc Rosset, 7-6, 6-3. But Kulti's compatriot, Mats Wilander, winner of seven Grand Slam titles, lost to the Australian Richard Fromberg 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

Results, Sporting Digest, page 31

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