Tennis: Quick exit on clay for Lendl

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IVAN LENDL, once the best player in the world on clay courts, suffered another humiliating defeat on his favourite surface when he was beaten 6-1, 6-4 by Karsten Braasch in the first round of the German Open in Hamburg yesterday.

Lendl, 34, the three-times French Open champion and winner here in 1987 and 1989, looked out of touch against his German opponent, who has never reached a final of an ATP tournament and is ranked No 47 in the world.

Braasch, eight years Lendl's junior, frustrated the Czech- born American with his varied game and Lendl failed to hit his shots and move around the court with the efficiency that has brought him 94 titles.

Asked about whether he had thoughts about retiring, Lendl said: 'Everybody can lose in the first round. Ask Pete Sampras who lost in the first round recently and went on to win the next four tournaments. If you play against somebody who is playing well and you are not so good, you have problems.'

Clare Wood, the British No 1, suffered a first-round defeat in the Italian Open in Rome yesterday. The Sussex player was undermined by service problems as she lost 6-1, 6- 1 to the 13th seed, American Ann Grossman.