Tennis: Petchey decides to retire

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The Independent Online
THE BRITISH Davis Cup player Mark Petchey is retiring from full- time tennis. The 28-year-old from Essex made a farewell appearance in the Challenger tournament at Newcastle last week. Petchey, who reached a career-high world ranking of 80 in 1994, is to become a commentator for Eurosport.

As a junior he won four singles and eight national doubles titles before turning professional in 1987. He became a member of the British Davis Cup squad and in 1991 helped Britain regain their place in the World Group when he beat Thomas Muster in the defeat of Austria in Manchester. The same year he won the Christchurch Challenger in New Zealand, but it was not until 1994 that he broke into the world top 100, with Michael Stich and Michael Chang among his victims.

He reached three quarter-finals and two semi-finals in ATP Tour events while, at Wimbledon, he was a quarter-finalist in the mixed doubles in 1995 and reached the third round of the men's singles last year.

Petchey said: "I have had a great time in tennis and I would not have changed anything I have done in the last 10 years. Now I'm looking forward to my new career."

Pat Rafter, the No 1 seed, survived a tricky match with Martin Damm yesterday to reach today's quarter-finals of the Mercedes Cup in Los Angeles. Rafter, who defends his US Open title next month, said the knee problem that had bothered him during the French Open and Wimbledon, seemed to have been conquered as he overcame Damm 6-3, 5-7, 6-1.

He took two and a half weeks off before this event, and said that would be his last break of the season as he prepares to defend his first Grand Slam title. He was encouraged by his victory against Damm, which took one hour and 41 minutes.

Rafter's compatriot Sandon Stolle, a lucky loser who replaced the injured Thomas Enqvist in the main draw, beat another Australian, Andrew Ilie, 6-3, 7-6. Stolle will now face the fifth-seeded American, Andre Agassi, who beat Jan-Michael Gambill 6-4, 6-4.

Agassi had previously been beaten by the fast-rising American youngster with movie star looks. But this time he maintained the recent improvement in his form with a sharp display against the hard-hitting Gambill. Afterwards, he said: "You don't want to lose to someone two times in a row. It's nice to go out and play well."