Tennis: Masur sees off Bates: British No 1 is frustrated

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The Independent Online
A SEED seeing Wally Masur looming ahead in the Wimbledon draw appreciates it with the sort of relish the rest of us reserve for a trip down a dark alley guarded by a Rottweiler. He is a dangerous player on grass as Boris Becker and John McEnroe, who have felt the Australian's teeth in the past, will testify.

Jeremy Bates would also give him a reference after losing 6-4, 6-3 to the world No 21 in the quarter-finals of the Direct Line Insurance Manchester Open yesterday, a result that ended Britain's interest in the tournament. That in itself was almost entirely due to Masur, who has single- handedly dealt with three-quarters of the home challenge this week.

Bates lost his serve five times in 1hr 12min, confounding the theory that the server has too big an advantage on a fast surface. Masur also surrendered his serve on three occasions but retained the ability to go for the lines under pressure. 'He made the big points whereas I didn't,' Bates said. 'That's why he's 21 in the world and I'm 121.'

The British No 1 could not have started much worse. Troubled by the sun, he served three double faults as a prelude to going 4-1 down. He broke back twice but, having reined Masur in, he let him go again.

The second set turned on a ball called good by a linesman that everyone else thought was out. That gave Masur, the fourth seed here, the break for 4-2 and he served out for a semi- final place that emulates his performance of last year.

'It was clearly out,' Bates said. 'To lose a game like that is beyond frustration. These things happen in tennis but it doesn't make you feel any better. I don't think I served that badly, it was just that he returned so well. He's very much the form man on grass at the moment.'