Ferrero survives Norman's onslaught

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The world No 1, Juan Carlos Ferrero, overcame two set points on his way to a 7-5, 7-6 win over the 6ft 8in Belgian Dick Norman in the first round of the Thailand Open in Bangkok yesterday.

Norman fired down 17 aces and struck some blistering returns, but his lack of consistency often worked to Ferrero's advantage in the rallies. The Spaniard earned an early break to lead 2-1 but dropped his serve in the next game. He then faced a set point at 5-4 after a Norman return clipped the net cord, but the left-handed Belgian put a forehand into the net. Ferrero broke to lead 6-5 when Norman double-faulted, and served out for the set.

"He's a difficult opponent because he's left-handed and serves very hard all the time. He plays very aggressive from the baseline, but he did a lot of mistakes in important moments and that was great for me," Ferrero said.

In the second set, Ferrero broke to lead 1-0 but a double-fault allowed Norman to level at 3-3. Ferrero then faced another set point when a lob fell long but Norman again missed his chance when he netted his return off a second serve.

"It was tough and great to win because I only arrived yesterday from the Davis Cup and it was not easy to play today," Ferrero said. He is next due to play Alex Bogomolov after the American beat Giorgio Galimberti, of Italy, 6-3, 6-3.

The eighth seed, Taylor Dent, used his huge serve to overcome Wesley Moodie, of South Africa, 6-1, 6-4, but the seventh seed, Fabrice Santoro was beaten 3-6, 7-6, 6-1 by Gregory Carraz in an all-French battle.

Speaking at the Sparkassen Cup in Leipzig, Martina Navratilova said yesterday that she plans to give up tennis after next year and move into politics.

"If Arnold Schwarzenegger can run for governor in California, then who knows? I have the muscles," she said. "I will be involved, especially the way things are going right now. The conservative party is too strong."

The Prague-born American has captured five doubles titles this year and two Grand Slam crowns, both in mixed doubles. Two weeks ago, she lost the United States Open doubles final with Svetlana Kuznetsova.

The 2002 Australian Open champion, Thomas Johansson, could make his comeback at the Stockholm Open, which he won in 2000, following a knee injury which has kept him out of competitive play since the Masters in Shanghai last November. The Stockholm Open runs from 20 to 26 October.

In Moscow, the top two seeds, the Americans Lindsay Davenport and Venus Williams, have pulled out of the Kremlin Cup. Davenport, ranked No 4 in the world, has been nursing a painful foot injury for the last few months, while the sixth-ranked Williams has been troubled by a lingering stomach muscle injury, which forced her to miss the US Open. Williams is also mourning the death of her elder sister Yetunde Price, who was shot dead in a suburb of Los Angeles earlier this month.

Marat Safin, of Russia, will make his comeback from a long-term wrist injury in the men's tournament at the Kremlin Cup. Safin, the former US Open champion, who has been troubled by injuries for much of the year, has played only once since April, at the Mercedes Benz Cup in Los Angeles in July. He first injured his wrist ligaments at the Australian Open in January, weeks after leading Russia to victory in the 2002 Davis Cup.

* Mark Petchey has been appointed manager of men's national training at the Lawn Tennis Association. The 33-year-old starts work today as Britain's Davis Cup team, relegated from the World Group, goes into the draw for Group One of the Euro-African Zone. Britain have been seeded, along with Germany, the Slovak Republic and Belgium.