Tennis: Rafter was drunk in Cup tie

The Australian Davis Cup captain, John Newcombe, had to defend his No 2 singles player, Pat Rafter, after an admission that he went on court drunk during the weekend's quarter-final victory over the Czech Republic.

Rafter confessed to being inebriated after a night of celebration when he arrived at Adelaide ground for his reverse singles match against David Rikl on Sunday.

"I was still drunk coming here this morning," Rafter told reporters after Sunday's match. "I started sobering up half-way through - I felt great in the third set," said Rafter, who beat Rikl in three sets in the dead rubber.

Australia, who won the tie 5-0, took an unassailable 3-0 lead after the doubles on Saturday, prompting a team celebration that night. Newcombe was unhappy that Rafter, ranked 43 in the world, had made his admission but defended the player's professionalism. "It was not too smart of Pat to say those things," Newcombe said. "But I feel the comments have been exaggerated."

In their World Group semi-final in September, the Australians will meet the United States, for whom Andre Agassi rallied from a two-set deficit to lead his side to victory over the Netherlands on Sunday. Agassi beat Jan Siemerink 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 to give the Americans an insurmountable 3-1 lead.

Martina Hingis, the new women's No 1, beat Monica Seles 3-6, 6-3, 7- 6 on Sunday to win the Family Circle championship at Hilton Head, South Carolina.

A week after beating Seles 6-2, 6-1 in 44 minutes to win the Lipton, Hingis needed more than two hours for her sixth title this year. Her streak of 31 match victories is the equal sixth-best run of all time.

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