Defeat of Argentinian puts Rafter revival back on course

Patrick Rafter returned to winning form yesterday by defeating the Argentinian Gaston Gaudio in the opening round of the Lyon Grand Prix. The eight-seeded Australian, who was eliminated in the second round at the Stuttgart Masters last week, beat Gaudio 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, to gain ground and confidence.

Patrick Rafter returned to winning form yesterday by defeating the Argentinian Gaston Gaudio in the opening round of the Lyon Grand Prix. The eight-seeded Australian, who was eliminated in the second round at the Stuttgart Masters last week, beat Gaudio 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, to gain ground and confidence.

Rafter, who has struggled to overcome the effects of shoulder surgery in October 1999, has won just one tournament this season - the Heineken Trophy in June. Though he also reached the final at Wimbledon, where he lost to Pete Sampras, Rafter has made early exits from 10 tournaments.

The wildcard Michael Llodra delighted home fans by toppling Spain's Albert Costa, who is ranked almost 100 places above him. Llodra, ranked 126th in the Champions Race, defeated the 29th-ranked Spaniard 6-7, 6-1, 6-3, and hailed the victory as the "best win of my career." Younes El Aynaoui, of Morocco, defeated Australia's Andrew Ilie 7-6, 7-6.

Germany's Markus Hantschk beat the eighth seeded Spaniard Fernando Vicente 6-4, 6-4 in the first round of the men's St Petersburg Open. Hantschk, 23 next week, needed one break to take the first set before both players struggled with their service game. The second set saw five service breaks from each side before the 71st-ranked German held on in the 10th game to take the match in one hour and 27 minutes. The former Wimbledon semi-finalist Vladimir Voltchkov, of Belarus, needed just 64 minutes to defeat Sweden's Magnus Gustafsson 6-3, 6-2.

Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov, seeded second, meets the Czech Bohdan Ulirach today, while the top seed Marat Safin faces fellow Russian Igor Kornienko tomorrow.

* The former champion Jo Ward, from Middlesex, lost 2-6, 6-3, 2-6, against Scottish wild card Lyndsay Reilly in the first round of the National Championships at Telford. Karen Cross, from Devon, lost 2-6, 0-6 to Northumberland's Nicola Trinder. The title-holder Hannah Collin, from Surrey, won 6-0, 6-4, against Julie Dawson, from Sussex.

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