Tennis: Rafter apology for being drunk

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The Independent Online
A remorseful Patrick Rafter apologised yesterday for playing a Davis Cup match for Australia last weekend while he was drunk.

Australian newspapers said on Monday that Rafter, the world No 43, and Mark Philippoussis went to a night-club in Adelaide on Saturday to celebrate taking a 3-0 winning lead over the Czech Republic in their Davis Cup World Group quarter-final.

Rafter admitted that he was still feeling the effects of drink during his reverse singles match on Sunday. "I'm glad you brought that up," said Rafter, when asked about the incident after his 2-6, 7-6, 6-4 win over his compatriot and Davis Cup team-mate Mark Woodforde in the first round of the Hong Kong Open yesterday.

"I cannot blame the media for what has happened - it is totally my fault. I think the one regret I do have is giving children the wrong impression of using alcohol to win matches or be a good athlete. You just cannot do it.

"It was a rare occasion for me to go out and celebrate like that," added Rafter whose two singles victories against the Czechs helped Australia to a 5-0 win and a place in the semi-finals against the United States.

One of his opponents in September's semi-finals could be Michael Chang, the top seed here, who sailed into the second round of this tournament with a 6-0, 6-1 win over wild card entrant Melvin Tong of Hong Kong.

Chang did not feature in the Americans' quarter-final win over the Netherlands at the weekend but said he was open to approaches for the semi-final.

The second seed, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, and the fourth seed, Conchita Martinez, both of Spain, won their second-round matches at the Bausch & Lomb Championships at Amelia Island on Tuesday.

Sanchez Vicario, twice winner of the tournament, rallied to beat Argentina's Florencia Labat 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Martinez, the 1995 winner, disposed of the South African Joannette Kruger, 6-3 6-1.

The third-seeded American Monica Seles, who reached the finals of her last two tournaments, withdrew from the event, suffering from a fever of 103 degrees and bronchitis. Seles lost to the world No 1, Martina Hingis of Switzerland, in both the Lipton Championships and Family Circle Cup finals.

Seles was replaced in the draw by a lucky loser, Diaz Oliva of Argentina, who will now face former teenage prodigy Jennifer Capriati of the United States.