Tennis: Petchey injured

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The Independent Online
IF MARK PETCHEY did not know it was going to be hard among the elite of tennis, he discovered it here yesterday. The British No 2 spent his first day among the top 100 players in the world being beaten in the Manchester Open and incurring an injury that might jeopardise his chances at Wimbledon.

Petchey aggravated a thigh strain stretching for a volley during his 6-4, 6-1 quarter-final defeat by Karel Novacek. 'I slipped as I changed direction,' he said, 'and ended up doing the splits and falling backwards. I had a problem with the top of my right leg all week but I've also pulled a hamstring.'

The injury occured at 2-1 in the second set as Petchey struggled to hold his serve. The trainer was called and the match was held up for four minutes while the injury was strapped, but he was limping afterwards. So was his tennis, as he managed only another four points.

'I don't see it as a problem for Wimbledon,' he said, 'although it would help if I could get a Tuesday match. I've played enough tennis in the last few weeks so I'm I hoping this won't make that much difference.' Even before his injury, Petchey was struggling. Novacek has 12 titles to his name and has spent some of his career among the top 10 so his current ranking of 65 suggested he was either on the decline or a shark in a minnow's guise. Yesterday, the latter looked the more likely.

His serve was threatened only once, when Petchey was 30-0 up at 4-4, but once he had weathered that, Novacek immediately broke for the first set and was menacing in the second. 'I was struggling to stay with him when I was fit,' Petchey said. 'Once I was a yard slow getting to the net, I had no chance.'

Jason Stoltenberg, the holder, also reached the semi-finals, beating Alex O'Brien of the United States, who had defeated Britain's Tim Henman in the first round.