Tennis: Petchey defeats Stich: Briton's remarkable three-set win over world No 2 in South Africa overshadowed by acrimonious parting of the ways at the LTA

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The Independent Online
Mark Petchey brought welcome respite to the beleaguered British game yesterday by defeating Michael Stich, the world No 2 and 1991 Wimbledon champion, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6, in the first round of the South African Open, writes John Roberts.

It was the first victory by a British player against one of the world's top two since Mark Cox beat Jimmy Connors in the semi-finals of the Stockholm Open, 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, en route to winning the title in November, 1976.

Last Sunday, Petchey was a dejected figure in Portugal, having lost the second of his singles matches and been nursed through the doubles rubber by Jeremy Bates as Britain were humiliated in the Davis Cup,


In Sun City yesterday, Petchey, ranked No 122, capitalised on Stich's mood of disappointment. On Sunday, the German No 1 had lost to Thomas Muster as the Davis Cup holders edged their match with Austria, 3-2.

Petchey broke Stich's serve for the first time in the final game of the second set, and won the third-set tie-break,

8-6. 'When Michael had break point against me in the second set I thought he was going to destroy me,' the 23-year-old from Essex said. 'But he seemed to lose his rhythm midway through the set, and I began to think more positively. I had been concentrating on holding my own serve, but I realised that I was playing well enough to hurt him.'

It has been an extraordinary month for Petchey. He arrived in Florida after giving Muster a tough match on a clay court in Mexico City and came close to eliminating Andre Agassi on rubberised concrete in the second round of the Lipton tournament.

On the eve of the Davis Cup tie in Oporto, Petchey said playing at altitude had made the clay court seem faster in Mexico. 'I'm never going to be a clay-court specialist like Muster.'