Agassi defeated by back injury

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The Independent Online

The top seed, Andre Agassi, still suffering from the effects of a back injury sustained in a minor car crash last month, was forced to retire against Fernando Vicente, of Spain, during the second round of the Tennis Masters series here.

The top seed, Andre Agassi, still suffering from the effects of a back injury sustained in a minor car crash last month, was forced to retire against Fernando Vicente, of Spain, during the second round of the Tennis Masters series here.

Agassi won the first set 6-3, lost the second by the same score, and Vicente had just broken Agassi's serve in the first game of the third set when the American made his decision. "I guess ultimately what helps you decide to stop is what's the upside and what's the downside," he said. "As soon as it's clear in my own mind that at this point I can't win this match, but the downside is a huge risk of really doing something a lot worse, then that's when it becomes clear."

The third seed, Magnus Norman, also exited the tournament during a storm-ravaged Wednesday, when the longest delay because of the weather suspended play from 5:25 p.m. until 9:08 p.m.

Slava Dosedel, of the Czech Republic, defeated Norman 6-7, 6-3, 6-3. The Swede relinquished the No 1 position on the ATP Tour's points race this week to the Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten, the reigning French Open champion. The fourth-seeded Kuerten eventually prevailed over the qualifier, Gianluca Pozzi of Italy, 7-5, 6-3.

Leading 4-5 in the first set with Pozzi serving, Kuerten was on the verge of retiring from the match, feeling dizzy from the heat and having stomach problems, probably from something he ate. The ATP Tour trainer Bill Norris was administering smelling salts to Kuerten when the storms descended. The four-hour delay enabled Kuerten to eat, drink plenty of fluids to rehydrate and take a nap to regain his strength. "I was feeling very bad, felt like I had no breath," Kuerten said. "When I got back on the court I felt so much better. I was playing unbelievably, but I knew I couldn't go for balls much longer."

In the Los Angeles Open, the top-seeded Martina Hingis overcame Chanda Rubin 5-7, 7-5, 6-1 and the defending champion, Serena Williams, beat Tamarine Tanasugarn, of Thailand, 6-2, 6-2 on Wednesday to reach the quarter-finals.

"It was close, but I kind of came out of it," said Hingis, the world No 1, who, despite fourtitles and three other finals this year, was in danger of making her earliest exit of the campaign. "Sometimes you need to win matches like this."

Williams, meanwhile, powered to another straight-sets win. However, the reigning US Open champion was not entirely pleased with her play.

"Out of 10, I was a three." said Williams, who still took only 63 minutes to achieve victory. "I just didn't have a good day out there at all today. I just wasn't playing my game at all."

The fifth-seeded, seventh-ranked Williams added: "I'm trying to play my best game against the low-ranked players. That's when you know you're a real champion, when you can bring your best game at any day at any time."

Amelie Mauresmo, of France, has been forced to withdraw from the US Open, which starts on 28 August, because of persistent back pains.

* Greg Rusedski, who has not played since withdrawing from the doubles match during Britain's Davis Cup defeat by Ecuador at Wimbledon last month, has pulled out of next week's Legg Mason Tennis Classic event in Washington. The British No 2 hopes to be fit to return for the Hamlet Cup in Long Island on 21 August, his last chance of competitivetennis before the US Open.

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